While I was on break from university, I remember having the strangest chat with my dad who kind of insinuated that it was time I found myself a nice Buddhist Medical student to hang out with (there was even talk of me hanging out around the Medical School to suss out a suitable candidate, because that’s how everyone meets the love of the life). So it’s safe to say that five years ago when I floated the idea that I may possibly end up spending the rest of my life with a ‘white boy’ the news was not greeted well at all. There was a lot of talk about traditions, religion and of course a lot of stress about society. We had so many heated arguments about what shacking up with a ‘foreigner’ could do to my reputation, how it will never work out because we are too different and he would NEVER understand nor value our traditions and, the mother of them all, WHAT WILL EVERY ONE ELSE SAY! I remember feeling suffocated with all this talk about caste,class and status and wanting to scream out loud ‘WELL ALRIGHT THEN I’LL JUST GO AND MARRY MY COUSIN!’
Needless to say it was not a cake walk but thankfully, I have been blessed with parents who, despite their initial reactions, were able to trust that they have raised me to be able to make good decisions. Once they met Andres and saw us together, they pretty much fell in love with him too (he is a little bit too wonderful for his own good).
As my father put it ‘in Sri Lanka, we think about caste, social background, family origins and so on but at the end of the day you can’t stop fate and destiny’ (this is a big deal considering my dad has never made such romantic declaration EVER).
Honestly, I thought I had it rough bringing home a white boy but the more I spoke to people the more I realised that its not true.
I have a friend who married a Sri Lankan boy and they have the most beautiful baby together. During a recent conversation I asked her whether they would be visiting Sri Lanka any time soon and she told me that they weren’t able to because his grandmother hates him for marrying outside his religion and doesn’t want anything to do with them. So in order to not cause any drama they are going to wait till she dies to go. I know right, sounds extreme but apparently her hate and anger is so intense that this is their option. I mean really, what is so important that you don’t want to see your grandson, his wife and their baby boy. What is so important that you want to carry that kind of anger and hate to your grave?
I have this other friend who is one of the most beautiful souls I have met in my life and would be the greatest partner for any girl. But he is single. Why? because his parents want him to only marry a girl of a specific race and caste and anyone outside these preconditions will not be welcomed in to the family. So my poor friend, who doesn’t want create chaos in his family, is not able to just go up to a girl he is attracted to and ask her out on a date. In fact we have had many conversation where he would tell me about a girl he is attracted and when I tell him to go ask her out, his response is always, without fail, ‘but she isn’t *insert race* and it won’t make sense to get attached if its going to go no where.’ I mean, he is being a good son but his parents need to at some point ease up on him and let him make a decision that will make him happy – he is the one who has to spend the rest of his life with this girl right?
My last story is of a girl who has found her special someone. She also comes from a family who are quite traditional and in the past she has always veered away from making choices that would upset her parents and been very respectful of their criteria. So the guy she is with is amazing and also is the same race and religion as she is (which I don’t think she sought out for but it was a happy coincident) but her parents want her to break up with him. Why? because he is considered a hybrid- his last name apparently indicates that he is of a mixed background (!) and therefore deemed not good enough. Of course she is angry, of course she is stressed – she is caught between a rock and a hard place. Is it necessary to deem someone unworthy because of their last name?
You would think that given its the 21st century and with it being a global village and everything, there wouldn’t be as many people clinging on so tightly to their traditional goggles.
To all those who are going through this, I am sorry and I wish I could be there to hold your hand! Good luck and hopefully you would be able to get your parents to let go of their goggles too.