Monday, 25 February 2008

Sorry, Mum, but I'll marry whom I want... the title of a brilliant letter from a Sikh son to his mother, excerpted in today's Times2 from his upcoming book, "If you don't know me by now".

The particulars of our lives are very different, but our emotions, our arguments, are very similar. I could have written so much of that letter:

"Sometimes I think you think that learning is like something you might buy from a shop, like a new washing machine or refrigerator: something that improves your life without changing you. But that's not the way it works. My education has changed me, and just because everyone else does something, it doesn't mean I have to. And just because you believe something, it doesn't mean I have to agree."

" I told myself that I wanted to give you what you wanted, that I could bury my true desires to make you happy. But it slowly became apparent that I could never go through with a marriage in which I didn't love the other person. I want more from my life than that.
And this is the thing: I have had more from life than that. I've loved and been loved back and now I know what it feels like, it's impossible to settle for less."

"And, if anything, if you accept me for who I am, rather than who you want me to be, we could be closer."

The list goes on. It couldn't have been articulated any better.

I let my parents know I wouldn't accept an arranged marriage by moving out in secrecy, taking three bin liners full of clothes and books that I wanted to keep. Sathnam is letting his mother know a different way. But we are united in this.

If only more South Asian girls and boys who feel the same way could find the courage to say the same and follow through. If just one sees today's Times2 or picks up Sathnam's book and finds that courage, it will all have been worth it.


Ariel said...

I don't come from a cultural background where arranged marriages are a reality, but Sathnam's letter still brought tears to my eyes. The crucial themes here - acceptance, allowing someone to be true to themselves, to live their own lives - those, I think, are applicable to all parent-child relationships.

Every time I hear your story, she'enedra, I am amazed anew at how brave you were.


operastalker said...

I don't know.... I may be getting desperate enough.... or maybe not....