After a heated debate at my parents house, I decided this is one topic, which isn’t probably just debated in our household, but in Indian households throughout.
My parents are one of the most liberal, Indian parents I know. I, now being 25, have been with my fiancé for 8 years. We’ve moved in together BEFORE marriage. That’s a big deal alone, something which I know some of my cousins wouldn’t be allowed to do. But regardless of what ‘the community’ would say, both our parents have accepted this and are happy for us to do. Personally, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. These past 7 months, I have got to know Tish better, his habits, his likes and dislikes. We’ve got over the small arguments of who’s going to do the washing up or who’s turn it is to hoover. These seem like small things to argue over, but, they can escalate, and would I rather iron these issues out now, than wait till marriage? Of course I would. I don’t want to get married and the first 6 months of our marriage are spent arguing over trivial issues. I’ve sort of digressed a bit here, but my main point was, my parents are fine with us living together, and they’ve accepted our relationship, even though Tish isn’t Indian, he’s Malaysian. ‘Same difference’ is probably what you’re thinking, but trust me, it’s not. Our cultures are so different, and now we’re at the stage of planning our wedding, this is becoming even more evident.
However, my brother is now at the age where he’s thinking about his future, talking about having a girlfriend etc. Now, my brother has had a girlfriend in the past, a black girlfriend, which my parents knew about, she’s been to the house, we all knew they were together. Did they accept it? Of course they did. Were they happy about it? Of course not, and their reaction would have been the same for any non-Indian girlfriend he brings home.
*My parents are not racist, me and my brother have friends of all races/religion/caste who come to our house on a regular basis*
They have just voiced their opinion that they would rather he married an Indian woman. But why does she have to be Indian? What is to say that the Indian woman will be the most perfect woman for my brother? What is to say she will care and look after him? What is to say she will love and care and accept my parents as she does for hers? We cannot know for sure that an Indian woman is the best match for my brother, on the other hand, we don’t know if a black/white/Chinese or a woman of another race will be a good match, but what I do know is that this relationship will be based on love, happiness and trust. And that’s all that matters, right? Or do we still have to respect our parents wishes in the 21st century and marry someone of their choice and have an unhappy marriage?
As I was born in the UK, and being a first generation British-Asian, I am very aware of cultural differences and growing up I had a constant battle with my parents over what clothes I can and can’t wear and where I can and can’t go. For example, wearing a skirt above the knee, my mum would say to me ‘You’re not English Veena. Indian girls don’t wear skirts this short.’ Or when I turned 18 and started ‘raving’ my parents would tell me it’s not something Indian girls do – going out partying and getting drunk. Evidently, my parents have never stepped foot in a club in the UK..
Interfaith/Interracial marriages are so prevalent these days. Forget that, as a society, we’re welcoming same gender marriages, so why can’t the Indian communities move on from the mindset that interfaith/interracial marriages will not work? I, personally, have family members who have married outside of the Hindu religion, and are happily married. And I know of many many more people who are in interracial relationships.
Yes, my parents do have a say. Yes, they are allowed to voice their opinions, they are our parents at the end of the day and I will respect them in all ways possible, but also, when the time is right and my brother is looking to settle down, I would like for them to respect his choice of woman. It will take some adjustment, and some time, but, deep down, I know that if my brother is happy they will accept his relationship as well as his girlfriend/wife.
It really is so important for the older generation Indians to be more open minded and be more accepting of the choices their children make. Respect is a two way street, some Indian parents think respect comes from the child and that’s it, but that’s not true. The more you you restrain your children and put barriers up, the more likely they will be to rebel. All parents want their children to be able to approach them and talk to them and tell them what is going on in their lives, but that’s not going to happen if you restrict them for doing things. I went to an all girls schools and when I got my first mobile phone, I started talking to boys “oh my gosh big deal” I hear you say. But for my parents it was. I’d been in a girls school since year 3, all of a sudden I’m in high schools with boys’ numbers in my phone, how did that happen?! My parents didn’t like it one bit. My mobile phone got taken off me, I was only allowed on MSN Messenger for one hour every day and and my mum used to go through my text messages! This sounds so funny and ridiculous now, but that was their way of putting their foot down. Did it help? No. I just turned the boys’ names into girls names – Alex became Alexia, Krishan became Krishna and so forth, you get the gist? So my point is, the more we are restricted as children, the more we are bound to rebel. It’s in the human nature. Just the same way that when I go on a diet and cut out chocolate, I tend to eat more chocolate during my diet than any other time!!
I did digress a bit here, but I hope you guys found this post interesting. And let me know your thoughts – are you an Indian man/woman who is in a relationship with a non-Indian person? How do your parents feel about it? Would love to know!