Hello, my name is Laxmi and I’m in my early twenties—an innocent, beautiful and attractive girl with long black hair. I like to live my life to the fullest. I have some education in social service. I enjoy helping people and being around people. My parents love me a lot. I have siblings, a brother and sister. I always felt loved by my sister but when it comes to my brother, he is not very expressive but I’m sure that he cares about me. I’m a happy girl with lots of goals and aims in life. I want to experience everything in life.
My family is openminded and always supported me in most things but when it comes to Indian culture and a girl’s safety then they are more concerned. I’m from a small town of India and middle-class family. My parents worked hard to provide good education and comfort to us for our life. I respect them a lot and I never thought of hurting them. But I also believe in standing up for myself since I have a stubborn and rebellious personality. If I feel something is not right, then I stand up and speak out for my rights and choices.
One fine day, I met a handsome guy on my way home. Our eyes became one. It was instant and extreme romantic feelings. His eyes were a mirror to his soul and I fell in love with him—‘love at first sight.’ My world changed; I could feel everything around me so lively. I liked to dress up, put on some make up and a nice hair do and look more attractive. I started feeling life is colourful like rainbow. I was always excited to go out in hope to see that guy around. I didn’t know nothing about him like his name, address or anything. After few days I noticed the same guy following me to my college. I felt beautiful colourful butterflies around me. I was so excited and happy, blushing and smiling and I felt like I was on top of the world. My heart was full of joy to see him. It became routine for both of us to see each other on the way to my university and home. Everyday I was excited to dress up and look good for him. We did not talk to each other yet, but this became routine for both of us. He accompanied me to college and when I finished classes, he accompanied me home. I would say it was a ‘silent love’, the love which has a language of lots of feelings but no words.
It has been over a month now. It is hard for me to understand where this feeling will lead me. I was fearful of society and my parents. I noticed a few of my friends were observant and knew about this ‘silent affair.’ I was so afraid that I was doing something wrong, but I could not control my emotions. One evening, somehow, we broke our silence. My crush approached with letter in his hand. This was the first time he came close to me and tried to talk to me. My heart started jumping and I was shaking because I was in the middle of the street and I was fearful of people. I froze, our eyes became one. He said, “HI,” and handed the letter to me saying, “This is for you.” I could not speak a single word. I just took the letter and started walking fast towards my house, ignoring everything around me. I arrived home with my heart jumping. I went into my room quickly, closed the door and opened the folded letter. I started reading his words and as I kept reading it calmed me down. It brought a massive smile to my face. He poured his heart into that letter and expressed that he feels the same when he sees me. I am very happy. Our silent feelings have words now and we start communicating through letters.
It is an amazing feeling but at the same time, I fear parents and people. Lots of questions run in my mind like whether this is right or wrong. What if my parents and other people find out? I also thought that one day I must marry like other girls, so I found a guy for me and its nothing wrong. I decided to continue. We met each other hiding from world in fear. We went to small temple, which was in very remote area where nobody visits, and it was far from our city. It was my first experience of having a romantic affair, so we did not talk much, and we were both just silent as we expressed our love holding hands. We both were so afraid that after about half an hour we left to go home. I was guilty of lying to my parents that I was visiting friends. I broke their trust and felt like I committed a big crime but on the other hand my heart and mind were supporting me with what I did. We started seeing each other often. I used to ride on his bike and spend some time with him. It was an awesome feeling and I could not stop seeing him despite of all the fear and shame of society.
There came a turning point in my love story after about 4 or 5 months. My parents found out about it and that was the tragedy of my love story. I got a hard slap on my right cheek from my mom. She yelled at me, “Who is the guy are you seeing? How dare you do this? You are loose character and a cheap girl.” I broke into tears, sobbing quietly because I knew that I had made a mistake. I’m a bad girl. But I often question that. One day I must marry, and everybody gets married. Why can’t I marry the guy I choose? There were lots of ‘whys’ in my mind. My love story ended, and I had to leave town for some further study. We didn’t have any way to communicate but somehow my friends conveyed the message to my lover. I don’t know what happened to him and we lost contact.
I was in a new place and environment. I made new friends, but that feeling was still there. I started feeling down and missing him. I wanted to see him and talk to him but could not. I could not speak to anyone. I just shed tears every night. My pillow got wet with all my sadness and it seemed like it was crying with me too. I started focusing on new studies and after 2 years I found his contact and talked to him. I’m more mature and wiser than before. My siblings got married and now its my turn. I gathered my courage to tell my parents that I still love the same guy and want to marry him. They got upset again and scolded me but did not raise their hand this time. My parents stopped talking to me. There was some deadly silence in the house. I felt that I had deeply hurt and disappointed my parents, but I also could not stop myself for standing up for my choice.
One day, I decided to marry the guy and I married without my parent’s permission. As an Indian girl it was a huge move for me. All I know is that, I’m standing up for myself and its not wrong. Although, when it comes to Indian culture, then it is about challenging cultural values. I did not return home that night after my work as usual, so my parents contacted me on my mobile. I had no courage to tell them that I got married against their wishes and without permission. My boyfriend, who is now my husband in legal terms, talked to my parents and informed them that we got married and I’m safe. I could hear my mom crying in the background. I felt shame and fear but somewhere in my heart I knew I was right. After a couple of days my parents convinced me to come home. I was afraid but they promised me that I will be fine and that they would invite my husband later once my relatives and community settled down with this incident. We would marry with all the rituals to be acceptable in society. I trusted them and my husband dropped me at my parents and went back to his home.
My family had been so overwhelmed. As I entered the house, they hugged me with lot of love and care and started crying, I felt sad and happy at the same time. I was sad that I hurt them and happy about their love. But it was for a short period of time. The next morning brought lots of pain, challenges, abuses, blame, guilt, embarrassment, depression, anxiety and lots of sadness in my life.
I was shocked when I heard my family talking in the morning. I should divorce my husband because it was against their wishes. I felt that they were concerned for me, but I’m married, and I cannot undo the marriage. I’m being threatened. They gave me lots of labels such as ‘you’re a bad girl, a slut and have loose character because you chose your partner and got married.’ I had no option. I started seeing things in a new light. Outside I am a whole person but inside me everything was broken. My life was upside down and I could not imagine that this could happen. I got kidnapped, locked in a room. I was not allowed to have my mobile or go out. My husband was trying to contact me, but my family would not let him speak to me. There was too much chaos.
It affected me so badly I started feeling depressed, empty and damaged. I felt that the whole world was against me and lots of judgement. My eyes and heart were crying but no one could see that. I started feeling disrespected, worthless and that there was no value to my emotions or me. I felt everyone was against me because I stepped out of the box and I did not have same mindset. I felt pressured, blamed by my family for challenging cultural values and mindset of the people in society. I felt like a fish out of water. I was choking, suffocated by all the emotional and verbally abusive words. I tried to explain myself and be responsible for my mistakes. I understand the love of my parents for me although it did not help. I was afraid, down and fearful of the world. I had no more courage to face people because of all the blame and shame put on me. My heart was bleeding, screaming, “I am human. Please don’t be so harsh. Please try to understand my feelings and do not treat me like this.”
It seemed not a single person on the planet wanted to hear me or feel what I was going through. It was the worst punishment for breaking the rules of culture. I had been put down with no mercy and dehumanized. At last, after a few days of suffering, I lost all the hope in me and in the world. I started hating myself for what I had done. I felt like I was gasping. I was a useless human being and a bad daughter. I gave up on my life because everything was over. I could not see a single ray of light. I took some poison and committed suicide, the end of all the pain and sorrow. End of Laxmi’s life…
(This is a work of fiction)