There is nothing that you cannot solve with communication.
I have been living away from home (Patna, Bihar) since 2010, attending colleges in different states. Since 2016, I am based in Bengaluru. Traveling, exploring different places, cultures, and cuisines is my passion. Balaji is from Tirupattur near Vellore. Both of us share the same excitement for travel. While he began his career as a Data Analyst in Bengaluru in 2015, it's his love for bikes and photography that adds spark to his everyday story. With no location in mind, he would just go on random explorations on his bike.
We used to work in the same company. Though we we were not in the same team but had mutual friends at office. I remember, it was Valentine's Day, year 2018. Everyone was wishing each other and we did too. That's how we broke the ice and eventually became good friends. The day brings back so many memories, the thrill, the pure joy of finding a friend in a new place, the sense and comfort of belonging somewhere.
No surprises here. We started spending a lot of time with each other, just roaming around the city, sharing our love for food. All these experiences made us realise how easy going and effortless this relationship is. No pretences, just me being me, and Balaji being himself. How does being really understood feel? So yes, that's how it felt. All thoughts, dreams, aspirations, came together, easily connecting with every thread of our individual thought, dream, fear, aspiration, and all that we get to experience in life. And then the big question: Who would you like to spend your life with? was settled, for once and for all.
In our country, when two people are in love, it's not just about them. The love story is incomplete without families approving, rejecting, getting angry, and then coming around. Resistance in such cases is natural. Specially when you come from Bihar and your partner is from the southern part of India. East meets West sounds more welcoming than people from these two parts of the country coming together.
My parents did not agree at all. If Inter caste marriages are a mishap, this was an act of God. The human mind is the genesis of incredible inventions, figuring out innovative solutions for complex problems but at its core, the mind is highly tribalistic in nature. It's a part and parcel of our evolution where in order to survive, trusting your own kith and kin has been non-negotiable. Further, this extended to people who shared similar cultures, values, language, faith, and beliefs. Even today and I am sure for times to come, till mankind exists on earth, anyone who doesn't look like you, talks like you, eats like you, and thinks like you, will always be met by resistance. This resistance could range from doubts and disagreements to being completely outcasted and ostracised.
Without much discussions, my parents said no. They feared disturbing the norms of society, worried what relatives might say, what challenges their daughter would face not knowing the language and culture. They felt that they would lose me to a whole different world. There were a lot of challenges in Balaji’s side of the family as well. He is the only son and his mother did not agree at all. She couldn't stop crying, thinking all her dreams for Balaji are getting shattered. She thought marrying a girl from a different culture altogether would be like going against the wishes of the entire family. Tears, arguments, blame – all took centerstage and were having quite a feast over our future. At one point, it felt there was a complete breakdown of communication.
But we were also headstrong about one thing – we never wanted to get married without the blessings of our families. All we wanted to do was hug them tightly and help them understand – this is what will make us happy. And wouldn't they be happier seeing their children happy? We had to take the first step by expressing ourselves with complete honesty and transparency. And then they too started making efforts.
My elder sister and brother-in-law visited Bengaluru and met Balaji. They loved him. They communicated this to my parents and then later on my mother and father visited and also met Balaji’s family. Once they spoke to him, learnt about his journey, they understood how honest and self made he is. My father was able to relate to Balaji’s struggles on many levels and understood him. On my part, I started making efforts to learn Tamil. I met Balaji’s mother, then his brother, his uncle and gradually started feeling at ease. The bottomline is when both the families got to know how happy we were with each other they happily agreed. It was just a matter of communication.
It felt amazing. What we went through and how we overcame all the frictions on the way made our relationship even more stronger. It all became part of the story. We are very proud of each other for standing by each other’s side. Never for a moment feeling shaky or showing less faith in our love. And the best part is after all these struggles that we faced, our wedding ceremony was so much fun for everyone attending as it had a beautiful blend of both cultures. It was all about love and laughter and not just for the cameras, we smiled from our hearts.
What we learned is if you have faith in your relationship, if you believe this is where both of your happiness lies then do not shy away from telling your parents. Stand up for it. Fight for your love, don’t fight with your parents. There is a difference. Anger and disrespect would not solve the problems. Meaningful communication will do. Make them believe in your reasons, help them look at your love the way you do. But everyone's journey is different, background is different. I am very excited to share mine with you all but at the same time, I do not mean to say this is the ideal. We all choose our battles. We win some, we lose some, and we learn. Life goes on.
For me, Balaji is my best friend. I think being able to talk about anything and everything under the sun really helps in solving all big and small issues. There is nothing that we cannot solve with communication. Even when we are low, angry or having the worst day, we like to talk about it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Love is not all roses, Bollywood, and trips to Europe. It's also everything that's not on the menu in a quaint, romantic cafe, in the countryside. But, we never go to bed angry. That's one rule we live by and it brings so much joy and peace.
Richa and Balaji
(This article features an exclusive account of Richa and Balaji's journey, fighting for their love, and setting an example. We wish them lots of love and happiness. Written by Garima Gayatri, the founder of The Story Bar.)