A Marriage Outside The Caste


I am a 22 year old woman who just finished her graduation and was the first in her class. I am in love with a man who is a great person who everyone just loves as he is practical and emotionally balanced. This is the good part. My parents are orthodox in their outlook. They will not allow a marriage outside the caste, religion, state. When I tried telling my mom about my feelings, she went into depression and even tried to kill herself. Whenever I try(and I mean ‘try’, not even mentioning anything, just speaking generally about inter caste/religion/state marriages) to put the idea to her, she just goes quiet and has sleepless nights. My father, I thought would be more understanding, but he turned out quiet the opposite. He even had plans to get my boyfriend killed. He threatened me and told me to cut contacts with him. I am usually asked to stay at home most of the times. I hardly go out. Recently I underwent a phase of nervous breakdown and that has affected me a lot. I find myself very weak and tired and tense. I have shivering sessions occasionally. Now I cant even look at my dad, I hate the very sight of his and i cant stand his presence near me that i get reminded of the breakdown. I have to tell my parents somehow that I cannot think about any other man but my boy friend and that i would marry no one but him. But i am unable to say or do anything. My career is down in the dumps as I don’t have a job(which was again spoiled as my parents did not want me to attend interviews). I live under a lot of restrictions, which was put because my brother went to the US for studying when he was real young as he couldn’t get along with my parents. I ended up paying the price for that all my life and i was happy to sacrifice. But just this once, i want to have a choice of my own and marry my boy friend. His family is ready and are waiting for my parents to agree. I do not know how to cope with this. Everyday I feel I should end my life, as in front of all the people who are congratulating me and praising me for my performance, telling my parents how lucky they are to have a daughter like me, here is the true me, who is broken, and lost…thinking of ending her life… I just do not know what to do.. please help me.. I need to know what to do..

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You are presented with a far reaching life decision that has no ready made, easy solution. You are asked to choose between your heart on the one hand and your culture and (more importantly) the love of your parents on the other. If you choose in the favor of your heart, you may sacrifice the love of your family, and very likely their continuing support in life (not a trivial things to throw away at age 22 or at any age). If you chose in the favor of your family, you will have chosen to go against your own best judgment, and be guilty of what the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre called mauvaise foi or “bad faith” (in effect you will have sold out your potential and have become an inauthentic person). Either alternative is pretty bad. This is the sort of question that you have to answer for yourself, because you and only you will have the responsibility for suffering the consequences of the decision.

I don’t think this question you face is about the love you feel for your boyfriend. You’re a young girl, really, and the thing you have with this guy may work out or it may not. It is really besides the point because you can’t control what will happen. The same applies to the career thing. At your age there is plenty of time for a bright woman to make a career for herself. Neither boyfriend or job is relevant to the decision. What the point is to my way of viewing it is that you need to choose the type of pain you want to experience more of as an adult: the lonely freedom of making your own authentic decisions, or the stifling conformity but relative safety of letting the group make decisions for you. I have to admit that if it were me (knowing what I’ve learned about myself over the years) I’d choose the lonely freedom thing over the stifling safety thing. But keep in mind that I’m American, and cultural issues such as the caste system never much applied to my own situation. Direct comparison is not possible. The right answer to this question really is different for different people in different circumstances. You have to make up your own mind, basing your decision on your own temperament, personality and needs. I wish you the straightest and least painful path towards a resolution that will work for you.


One thing is certain. This is totally not worth killing yourself over. This is a crisis, and it will hurt for a while, some days very sharply, but you will resolve it, and life will go on.

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