I knew her initial loneliness and homesickness in France (where she was studying) had been put to an end when her weepy Skype calls to me were reduced and her Facebook timeline filled up with ‘love quotes’. She had fallen in love with an Indian classmate there. It was a happy time and no one cared about the differences in their religion.
Back in India, she was eager to tell her family about the beautiful new development in her life. Her siblings already knew and were excited, but the elders had to be informed.
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Hailing from a joint family where she was pampered, loved and always supported, she thought her love would be accepted.
She was expecting some resistance and understood that she needed to give the family time to accept her choice, but she wasn’t prepared for the emotional trauma that was in store for her. Overnight ‘her happiness’ became secondary to what ‘people would think’. The whole thing felt like a nightmare. She was confused and thought, “I am old enough to live alone in a different country, take critical decisions in office – but still not allowed to marry the man I love.” Many reasons were given to her as to why this marriage must not happen… Different caste/religion/festivals/customs and various other things that could create difficulties in her life. Her father stopped talking to her. The decision to send her to France was regretted and openly cursed. She was blamed for spoiling the family name and compared with cousins who were happily married in their own caste.