Image courtesy of Chloe Robb
I spent my whole life as my grandparents’ clear favourite. They dedicated their entire lives to my brother and I, making sure we had everything we needed and wanted. We had dinner together every Sunday, I saw them every day after work, and they wanted to know everything that happened in my life. That all changed in my second year of university when I met Chiggy.
On our first date he gave me a bouquet of roses, mixed in with chicken nuggets on skewers. It was perfect. He made me feel more accepted and wanted than I had ever felt before. It would have stayed perfect if I hadn’t had a cloud hanging over my head.
Normally, I would tell my mum as soon as I met someone new, but I didn’t tell her about him. My mum isn’t racist, but I was not ready for my dad to know. I felt awful not telling her about this amazing boy I’d met. All I wanted to do was talk about how happy I was. When I eventually told her, she was happy for me, but we were both worried about how my dad would react to the news.
Eventually my mum told my dad, as I couldn’t. His initial reaction surprised me as he was not angry like I imagined he would be. He said that he just wanted me to be happy. I was so grateful that he loved me enough to put his own feelings aside.
After my dad’s reaction, I felt calmer about telling my grandparents. My dad gets his views from them, and they are even more prejudiced than he is. I thought that if he could be reasonable, they could be too. But still, I waited a few months before I told them.
It was the worst night of my life. When I first told my grandparents I had a boyfriend they were so excited. It all went downhill when I told them that he’s Indian. They told me they were ashamed of me, that this was going to embarrass them. They asked me what they would tell the rest of my family, how I could do this to them. I drove home in tears that night, shaking, barely able to see the road in front of me.
I was devastated. They phoned my dad the next day to tell him they were disgusted by what I was doing. Not long after that, they cut me out of their lives and didn’t speak to me for months. my grandparents – who are supposed to love me unconditionally – broke my heart.
Over the next few weeks my dad had changed his tune. He took every opportunity when my mum wasn’t around to tell me how uncomfortable he was with my relationship, that it made him feel ill. He still does this. Whenever I try to defend Chiggy, myself, or our relationship I am shut down and told that I’m ridiculous, hysterical, or, in his prejudiced words, throwing a ‘hissy-fit’.
I feel like my family doesn’t love me enough to try to see past their own prejudice. It makes Chiggy feel self-conscious, like there’s something wrong with him. A part of me that hates them for making the person I love feel like this. No one deserves to be made to feel like this, solely on the basis of their skin colour. It continues to break my heart.
More positively, Chiggy says he appreciates how much I love him and understanding the backlash I receive from my family only makes him love me more.
Two years, a year abroad, and a complicated family later, we’re still together. The only benefit to this situation, is that going through it together has made us an even stronger couple. If my family can’t break us up, and believe me they’ve tried, I don’t think anything can.
Image courtesy of Chloe Robb