Kevin was the best man to ever happen to me. We were together for two and a half years, and we loved each other like Khaleesi and Khal Drogo. I used to call him samosa. He used to call me dumpling. I taught him about Islam, which he still follows to this day. I never understood why people thought we would get tired of each other. We were sure that we were different. We were sure we were forever.
Like any couple, we ended up having our problems. But Kevin was the only one I planned a family and a future with. I was determined to come out of this hand in hand, no matter how steep the mountain and no matter how long the battle.
I remember when we lived together, and I wrapped my arms around his neck and cried into his shoulder, “Please don’t ever leave me.” I had never felt something so deep in my soul or so surely in my bones.
Little did I know, I would be the one to leave.
The real problems and doubts started to arise when I allowed my friends and family to be the voices in my head instead of myself and my conscience. I was still young enough to be impressionable. I was still young enough not to realize that the conditional love of my family was not ok.
- They were not wrong that we came from different worlds.
- They were not wrong that we spoke different love languages.
- They weren’t wrong that my culture and heritage were confusing to him, and I would have to explain it 1000 times.
- They weren’t wrong about him not completing his higher education.
- They weren’t even wrong that our kids might have felt isolated being 1/8 this and ¼ that.
But we would have done it for each other.
Kevin would even admit to me that he knew he could be hard to love. We both had a lot of residual trauma that showed up in our relationship
But we had witnessed so many people in relationships with one person but in love with another person. We just knew that what we had was unmistakable.
After I entertained a short engagement with someone else to appease my parents. I finally told my mom she needed to meet the person I wanted to marry. When my mom met him, she would ask him, “Why do you want to marry my daughter?” He said I made him want to be a better person. What a privilege it was to inspire the person I loved. After what I thought was a lovely lunch, I was positively giddy. When we got in the car, my mother would tell me to leave him.
Eventually, everything gave way to that doubt that was seeded in my brain. I couldn’t run from it. The “what ifs” of our doom and the “what ifs” of would I grow to resent him if my family never accepted us got to me. I kept asking for breaks. It eroded our trust and communication. It wasn’t smart, but I didn’t know what to do. After all, it is the norm to hide relationships in desi culture, b/c it is so taboo to date, especially outside your culture. Without a real support system, we collapsed. I figured out too late that we should have gone to therapy while we were together and not after. We tried afterwards, but it was over. Dragging it out only made it more painful, but at least we know we tried everything.
I firmly believe that if Kevin and I had gotten engaged when we wanted to and not when “the time was right” for my family, we would be married. He might have even convinced me to have a kid or two. I believe that in another timeline of my life, I listened to our love instead of everyone’s doubt, including my own. I have to believe that the eternal incense of our love is still burning somewhere. Slow, simmering, and fragrant. Because every now and then, I still get a whiff of its perfume.