Dear Readers - In my May 28 column, a man who’d met his beloved girlfriend in 2013 (both international students from the same country, now living together eight years) wrote a heartfelt plea for advice on the issue of caste.
Her father met him after three years, her mother died several years later. Now her father and brother blame that death on the letter-writer being “a low-caste human.” The father’s forcing her to marry someone he chooses or he’ll cut all ties with his daughter.
I asked readers who’ve experienced a similar dilemma to share their stories:
Reader #1 – “Years ago, me and my now-husband had the same problem. My life was literally hell. I’d never wish that mental torture on my worst enemy.
“I had the same kind of emotional blackmail. Me and my husband persevered. I have him to thank for his empathy, compassion and mental fortitude that got me through some of the darkest moments in my life.
“Seventeen years later, my family now regards my husband as one of the best things to have happened not only to me but to them. I’ve forgiven them for the emotional distress that I was subjected to, but I can never forget how that made me feel.
“If I forget that, I’d risk subjecting others to that same degree of distress. I’m happy to talk to your reader.”
Reader #2 – “I haven't dealt with the specific issue of caste, but lost a fiancée to her father years ago partly because of a "race incompatibility." We lived together in a town four hours away. That was our happiest time because she was further away from her father's influence.
“When we moved back, we were not allowed to live together anymore, she moved back in with her father, and that was the beginning of the end.
“I say to the letter-writer: Trust your instincts. If her family bond runs as deep as it seems, I’m not optimistic for your long-term chances.”
Reader #3 – “It's like anti-Black racism and even the educated ones like it when it favours them, which is why it persists. It's petty.
“A friend who’s from the highest caste was going to abandon his Caucasian girlfriend to arrange-marry a girl from the same caste far away in a village which his parents left 40 years prior.
“It took little convincing as I explained how inauthentic it was, and that he has no burden to carry forward a severely discriminatory practice that has no value or evidence even of being correct. He’s a doctor. It didn't take much convincing.
“Genetics prove that the caste system is a made-up belief reinforced by punishment and insults over centuries by poorly-educated people who’ve lost relevance.”
Reader #4 – “My son married a girl from a different religion. His father cut him off. I’ve never seen a couple so content and happy. Their children are kind, respectful, well-mannered with excellent marks in school.
“Please tell the couple separated by caste, to follow their heart. Nothing can replace what they feel. We’re in the 21st century and religions, castes etc. have made more unhappiness in our small earth.”
Ellie - I repeat my response to the May 28 letter-writer:
Her father’s threat isn’t unique. Other parents over generations have given different reasons: the “wrong” religion, political affiliation or financial status. Many adult children defied those threats, believing it means parental control over all future decisions.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the upset husband whose wife took a new job she hadn’t discussed with him, (May 21):
“She should’ve discussed it in advance. It can have a huge impact on their lives, especially regarding young children and absence from the family.
“There are several far-reaching implications regarding the children’s physical and emotional needs and day care.
“It’s an unwarranted leap in judgment to accuse the husband of being the problem in their lack of communication or possibly not supporting her. His writing you implies that he wants to communicate.
“I feel your response would’ve been quite different if the genders were reversed.”
Ellie - He wrote, “We only chat about day-to-day stuff.” That’s non-communication on both their parts. I suggested he congratulate her then both start that important discussion now. It’s not the anti-male assault that you read into my answer, which included the possibility of “her own insecurity” being a factor.
Tip of the day:
Adult children living in countries that celebrate diversity won’t long accept bullying by parents disposed to caste inequities, racism, and religious intolerance.