I should probably start by mentioning that I am a Doctor. Not because it's a big deal but because it shouldn't be. I want you to know that I am a career oriented woman and not weak or submissive.
I fell in love with him in medical school. He swept me off my feet with his good looks and charm, I won't lie. He also told me that he had a crush on me. I felt elated because I was obviously attracted towards him. He looked like the kind of guy any girl would fall in love with easily. So him asking me out was a big deal for me.
Coming to the most important point — he had a fair complexion, I didn't. Everybody passed judgements about this very quickly. A dark girl like me probably trapped him in a relationship with my flirtatious ways and sly seduction.
I was called names in my college — Kaali, 'Black and White couple'. I was ridiculed and sniggered at. Even my closest friends who knew me very well acted surprised when I 'managed' to date him. All because he was fair and I wasn't!
The fact that we were both doctors and equally smart was not a factor to be taken into consideration.
I was naive and stupid and didn't bother to listen to anybody. We had a strong relationship and I thought that's all that mattered. He was a very sweet boyfriend and I still believe that he made me a better person. We dated for five years before I was finally sure that he was the guy I want to marry. We were both Doctors by then, set out to take over the real world.
The truth is I ignored the red flags throughout our relationship. Within a year of us dating, my boyfriend got a call from his parents one day. After he was done talking, he told me, "They inquired about whether you are well. I said yes she is fine". Then he grinned. I asked him why that was funny. He said "No, it's just an inside joke. My parents call you "Kaaliben". So they just said, "Is Kaaliben fine?"
I laughed at the blatant racism even though it hurt, very much. Mind you, his parents are not illeterates. They are both doctors with daughters living in the US.
I did wonder how they could be so shallow despite being exposed to the more liberal world. I was not a weak woman. I would not have taken that comment from anybody except him. But I just shrugged and giggled at the joke to end the discussion.
Then once, he asked me whether I was adopted from West Indies. I laughed again. By this time, I had a few doubts about whether he genuinely liked me. He promised me that it was a joke and he loved me.
When I asked him finally if we could now inform our parents, he hmmmed and hawed and then agreed. I was on cloud nine. I told my parents and he told his. At this point, I should probably mention that I am a Christian and he is a Hindu. He often asked me what we would do about cultural differences and religious problems. I always told him that I never thought of it as a big issue because love trumps all. Our children will simply have more festivals to celebrate.
Eventually, both are parents met and agreed to get us married. I think his parents wanted to say 'No' a long time ago but they probably realized that the blatant racism didn't go with their profession. We both were prepared to do our post graduation soon and my parents wanted to get us engaged before that. But suddenly, he kept putting off any talks of our engagement. I was confused and hurt but somewhere in my heart I think I never expected him to marry me. The racism in his family was far too strong despite me trying to ignore it.
One day, he called me and told me, "I can't marry you. You are dark and also a Christian. My parents also think the cultural differences would be too great."
He couldn't stop crying on the phone and could hardly get the words out.
So that is how my six years (by that point) of relationship came to an end, promoted by fairness creams, British colonialism, and religious beliefs.
I cut the phone, not crying at all since the inevitable had happened. I had never expected him to stand up for me and he did not. I had nobody to blame but myself. I didn't see what was in front of me for the sake of love, and it sliced my back. I don't even think he was at fault. He was too weak and spineless and I was aware of that personality trait. I just didn't acknowledge it for 6 long years.
Now I am single, working to save children (I'm a Paediatrician) and definitely not ready to date. Scarred for life by religion and culture.