Updated: Apr 13
Story by Richa Khobragade
With time I saw that my boyfriend was behaving differently. He dropped in hints about our relationship not working out and gave me many excuses about how his parents were not ready to meet mine or how he did not want to hurt his parents by going against them. I could not imagine my life without him even though I thought of breaking up with him, but I also knew that he was equally in a tough place. With everything going on, I was relying on antidepressants to keep me moving. One day he told me, “this girl from my office has proposed to me and I said yes”. It was unbelievable. He was having an affair with a married woman while we were together! She was planning to divorce her husband since my boyfriend accepted her proposal. His parents seemed fine with that relationship even though she was older than him and already married, because she was a Brahmin!
However, he did not get married to her but to someone else and that was a love marriage! It was one of the rough patches in my life. I felt numb having lost someone I loved with all my heart. I would have been married to him, if it was not for my caste in a hypothetical scenario. I was abandoned because of my roots. It shook me. I just needed to get him out of my head. Later, I went on dating apps and hooked up with couple of guys and had one-night stands. I chose not to disclose my identity there either, because I knew it would have become a barrier. Moreover, I had heard from my friends that, using #dalitlivesmatter in their bio resulted in zero matches. But I did meet someone on the app, who seemed sensible and understanding. From a casual friendship, we ended up dating each other, and it was only then that I chose to share with him about my identity. He was different from other men and this relationship felt different from my previous one.
I was elder than him and he was from a different state, with a privileged background. None of this stopped him from seeing and accepting me for who I was. He eased my insecurities and helped me realize how important it is to embrace my identity as a Dalit and to look beyond my economically backward background. We broke up after an year of dating because of reasons unrelated to my identity. Despite having received many rishtas, I refused to get married as I did not want to give in to the expected role of a housewife, cooking and cleaning.I have come to terms with the fact that I will be remaining as a spinster until I meet someone who would take me in for all that I am. As a romantic Dalit woman, I want someone to look at me beyond all the differences that may exist, to accept and respect me as an individual, with a sense of freedom and personal space. I want to be in a relationship, where I don’t lose myself, where there is a space for expressing my opinions and thoughts, where I matter. For a long while, I blamed myself for how things ended up in my first relationship. But now I know that I am not at fault. I no longer hide my identity. I don’t have to. I am much more vocal about where I come from now. From early adolescence to my first relationship, caste dictated my story. But I am rewriting it. And now, I have the bigger say in my life.