Actually quite painful to write thinking about all of this again.
6 weeks. That is all it took for me to fall in love with him. His name was James. I was at a work networking event where he also was as an employee of a company we had just bought. It was a lot of fun, a lot of chatting, drinking, just getting to know the new team that were about to move into our building. I was talking to my friends when suddenly, most of the girls in the room just stopped talking and all looked in one direction. i could just make out whispers of ‘who is he’? I had my back to what was happening so couldn’t understand what they were referring to. I turned around a like a Bollywood moment, I saw him for the first time. Our eyes met. He had these gorgeously soft light brown flowing curls, light blue eyes, this caring smile and an aura of charm. Yes, it was totally his looks that caught all of our attention at first but as I got to find out through the years, he was also this honest, decent, caring and loving man.
As soon as I saw him, I knew I had to be with him. Something inside me just lifted up and pushed me with this urge that I have never had before. I just needed to be with him. But at the same time, there were so many questions. Who was he? Did he have a girlfriend? Will he be sitting near me in the new office seating plan? I needed all these answers about him.
Turns out, he was sitting near me. Right next to me in fact. So, over the next couple of months, I started to really get to know him, as he did with me. We’d have breakfast together in the morning, catch up about the weekend, share the same jokes, this was just all too good to be true. At the same time, I could feel that my feelings were changing drastically for him. I was moving from lust, to some sort of love but I wasn’t sure what it was. I just let it happen. I loved his idea of life, his love for his family, his commitment to his closest friends, his passion when he talked about his writing. I felt excited. Genuinely excited about life. I was in my mid-twenties, I had just started my career and it felt good. I felt excited to go into work, and I actually hated Fridays because I wasn’t going to see him for two whole days! My friends were convinced that he had feelings from too – but as much as every cell in my body wanted to believe him – I was convinced that he has multiple girlfriends on the go, probably only dates models, there’s nothing in me that he would ever find attractive. Turns out the truth was very different. Out of all the girls in the office that paraded around him to catch his attention, he chose me.
And so our romance began. Here I was with this man that I just couldn’t believe just quite how lucky I was to have found the man and love of my dreams, but one thing that I had shoved at the back of my head, was that Mum and Dad would never, ever agree. I knew how traditional they were and being a Sikh, my parents drilled in me my whole life I was only to marry a Sikh, and not only Sikh, but also the same caste.
I tried to remain optimistic about the situation but before I knew it, I was in love. Like, totally, hopelessly, head over heels, feet lifted off the ground kind of love. I had never experienced it before. And I’ve never experienced it since. I guess it’s just a once in a lifetime kind of thing. But as the saying goes, I’d rather have loved and lost than to never have loved. After about a year I told my parents that I wanted to move to London near my work and start renting a flat as my commute was getting hard but the real reason was I wanted to live with him, and he wanted to love with me. I managed to hide this from my parents. They thought I was renting by myself. I hated lying but I felt like I had no choice. I love my parents but I also loved him and I just wanted to be with him all the time, and he also felt the same.
We were growing stronger and stronger and before we knew it, it had been two years. The best two years of my life. But still, my parents didn’t know. And it was slowly killing me. I could feel it cracking the foundation of the relationship. He was still a secret whereas I was fully integrated into his family. It made him feel like he wasn’t good enough. And whilst I just couldn’t be with anyone else, the thought of even approaching me telling mum and dad about this was giving me sleepless nights. I just couldn’t. How was I going to tell them? How could I let them down? It was driving me insane.
Until one day I had to. James nearly broke up with me after giving me an ultimatum and I actually thought I was going to die from the heartbreak. I couldn’t breathe, sleep, eat, anything. He hated being a secret from my parents (my sibling knew) and he just couldn’t understand it.
And then at that point I knew that I had to tell them. Because as much as it was hard to do, I had to know, for the sake of my sanity that I did everything I could in my power to make it work.
I remember the moment I told them. I was hysterical. They were not far behind. How could I have lied to them for all this time? And they were right. It was terrible. The guilt was killing me. But as you may know, Indian parents don’t exactly make it easy for you to tell them anything. If only they did, maybe things would have turned out differently. No one will ever know. A part of me hoped that from that point onwards things would have got a little bit easier. But it didn’t. It got much, much harder. The guilt levels went through the roof. My mum cried constantly, begging me to leave him. She stopped eating properly, sleeping properly, getting ill and then blaming me. On the other side, James was as supportive as he could be, but what else could he do. I cried most times I was with him, feeling guilty for being so in love with him and yet fighting in my head why I should feel bad about it, it was the most natural thing.
Over the years, it began to become like poison. Mum turned her guilt levels up several levels. Dad was uncomfortably quiet about it all. But I could see the strain on him from mum telling him that he should do something. It killed me seeing how much I was hurting them, it literally made my stomach hurt with pain watching mum cry. It was so silly for all of this to happen because James wasn’t Indian – why couldn’t they just see how happy he made me? Part of me wanted to give up, but part of me wanted to fight. But soon, it began to become a strain on the relationship. I started to transfer the pressure to James, and the issue came up in all our arguments – as well as causing most of them. I blamed him for never doing enough considering that I was hurting my parents to be with him and he blamed me for not feeling good enough.
Three years after the point I told mum and dad me and James decided to break up. That day was about seven years ago but even thinking back to it fills me with shivers. We were both still deeply in love, but at the same time it was clear my parents were never going to accept it. And I’m not the kind of girl that has the strength to do it anyway. I had to give it up. It destroyed me in so many ways and I can say a part of my heart went with me. I had to go counselling for about 6 months after, to deal with the pain and my anger towards my parents. It was such a complicated mess and obviously I don’t hate my parents for it at all. I’m having to understand their world.
After 3 years of breaking up with him, I married an Indian, a Sikh – just like my parents wanted. We met at a mutual wedding and soon after I felt the pressure from my parents. My family love him. I do too, but in a very different way. He is a good man. It will never be the same. I feel I compromised. I feel I compromised life. Maybe I should have been stronger, I don’t know. My husband doesn’t know this and he never will, I would never want him to know and make him feel second best. I think I secretly I resent my parents and always wonder ‘what if’? I’ll probably never get the levels of passion, love, want and companionship that I had with James. But as I said before, I would rather have loved and lost than never to have loved.