I’m a 29-year-old “upper-caste” Marathi girl. I’m everything that my hard-working parents dreamed of making me: I’m a successful doctor. I come from a middle class, semi-conservative, happy family. I have a younger sister and a younger brother who is physically handicapped.
My family, on paper and in picture, is perfect.
They sent me to a convent school, my family gave me everything I needed and even sacrificed a lot to make me a doctor. There was but one condition in my house- don’t fall in love with someone from another caste.
I made many guy friends, but somehow, this thought always stayed with me. I knew that when the time came, my parents would find me a nice Marathi boy and I would live a perfect life with him.
And one day, just like that, Mihir (name changed) walked into my life when I was 25 years old. We met at a friend’s house and almost instantly connected. He was an engineer working with a private company and despite us belonging to different professions, we never ran out of things to talk about. Soon enough, we both fell for each other.
I knew that we had no future together, and my parents would never change their “no inter-caste marriage” policy. And yet, Mihir gave me the confidence I needed to speak with to our parents about each other.
Eight months into our relationship, I told my parents about him, gathering all the courage I could muster. My parents were livid. They reminded me of how I was the ‘perfect’ daughter, the one with the great education, everyone’s favourite and now a doctor. Enraged they asked me how I could do something like this. I tried to explain my side, that love doesn’t happen by choice, it just happens. They tried to convince me by saying that I should leave him and their despair convinced me to break up with Mihir for the love of my parents.
With a hand on my heart, I agreed to meet the boys they had lined up for me. I’ll be honest, some of them were wonderful, and I’m sure that they’ll make their wives very happy… but none of them were Mihir. I couldn’t exchange more than a few texts with them. It didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t marry anyone else. It had to be Mihir.
It was time to speak to my parents again. This time, I promised to be stronger. Their reaction was as I had expected, but this time, I was adamant too. I had to give them a last resort: Either I marry Mihir, or no one at all. To my surprise, they were fine with me being single all my life, but they would never allow me to marry someone from a lower caste and bring them to shame.
Almost four years later, nothing had changed: Mihir and I were still together and my parents were not any closer to changing their mind about us. Now, Mihir’s parents were getting anxious, they wanted him to marry in their caste too, but after a few conversations with them, they agreed that it was their son’s happiness that they valued more.
I knew that I couldn’t marry anyone except Mihir, but I also knew that I couldn’t marry him without the blessings from my family. But they were rigid, and Mihir’s family, now impatient.
Finally, I decided that I had to make a decision. I went to my parents and told them, that since they cared more about society than their daughter, I was going to marry the man who would and has, picked me.
Their reaction was not what I had expected: they threatened his life, then threatened mine and finally theirs. They cursed me and told me they’ll cut all familial ties with me.
Mihir and I were both petrified- we couldn’t get married at the risk of someone from my family losing their life. I tried convincing my mother, told her that this was the best decision for me, because he was the best decision for me. I think I did manage to change her mind about us, but not enough to share her thoughts with the others in my family.
Soon, they threatened to cut off ties with my mother if she kept supporting us. All of this was mentally torturous.
My life seemed to take such a strange turn. From being a working professional, a doctor, in a city, raised in a middle-class educated family where we’ve witnessed numerous successful inter-caste marriages, how did my life turn into this circus?
Why couldn’t my parents be happy for me and not worried about the society? It deeply saddens me that we think cast-ism doesn’t prevail in cities, with the educated masses, but it does.
Four years later and I’m still hopeful about us, I’m still holding on to the idea of Mihir and I getting married with our parents standing right beside us, with smiles on their faces and blessings in their wishes.
It hurts me that I’ve to disappoint my family as I have- I live in guilt of their pain every single day, but I can’t turn back. I love Mihir and his family has already started making preparations for our wedding. I can’t leave him. His family has already accepted me as one of their own.
I’m scared and sad. I’m scared that my parents hate me: the two people that I spent my whole life trying to please. I’m scared that they’ve threatened to kill themselves because of my decision to marry Mihir.
I’m scared because who will I take advice from for my marriage? I’m scared because what if my marriage doesn’t work out, who will I go to for support if they aren’t ready to look at me? Who do I blame here? Society or my parents?
A society that never comes together against domestic violence, never unites against abusive in-laws, never stands up against any social causes, especially one as hopeful as love.