Caste Out


Direct Answers - Column for the week of September 29, 2003

I am a 28-year-old Indian lady. I am in love with a 30-year-old Indian guy for the last four years. We share many interests in common and get along well. We are both Ph.D. students.

The problem is the different communities to which we belong. We have a very complex social system and are allowed to marry only the person who belongs to our own community (caste). He belongs to a higher community than mine.

My boyfriend feels he would never be able to convince his parents for the marriage, nor has he attempted this. He strongly believes he would not be happy if he hurts his parents, so two years ago he asked me to stop contacting him. It was very painful for me, but at the same time I realized I cannot force him into a relationship.

We live in separate towns now. Until two months ago we had absolutely no contact, then he started contacting me. I know from his letters he is frustrated and lonely. Even though I stopped communicating with him, I love him with all my heart and cannot think of life with another man.

I answered his letters, which are mostly about academics, and never asked him why he broke up with me. I haven't discussed my future with him nor he with me. Things look so uncertain I am confused. Should I continue with him or not?

Reeta

Reeta, there are many reasons why people feel they are better than other people. A religious person might say we are full of pride, and our pride makes us want to feel superior. A scientist might say we are primates and primates arrange themselves in dominance hierarchies. But the reasons for social differences don't matter.

What matters is that you are revisiting a round of pain this man caused you two years ago. You are a bright, educated woman worthy of a man's love. Though you may care for him and he may care for you, he is letting something other than love make his choices.

He is not offering you marriage or apologizing for cutting you out of his life two years ago. He is wheedling his way back into your life in the same wheedling way he left it. He is coming back because he is lonesome, not because he is ready to defend you as the woman he loves.

When a person cannot swim, it doesn't mean they can jump in the water two years later unless something has changed. You need to tell him that.

If he hasn't changed, you are indulging yourself in something which can only cause you pain. If you give him a shoulder to cry on, all you are likely to get is a wet shoulder.

Wayne & Tamara

The Open Road

My name is June, and I have a friend, Mary. Mary is 45 and very overweight. We ride our Harleys together all the time. Mary wears her shirts tied up in a big knot, and her huge tummy sticks out. It is very, very unattractive and very embarrassing to me.

I watch people stare, I hear their comments, and I hate it. I'm five feet tall, petite, and I don't even wear my clothes like that. How can I talk to her without hurting her feelings?

June

June, perhaps the essence of riding a Harley is freeing yourself from scripts of conduct and norms of behavior. We all long to be free of a closed caste system where everyone knows our place. We long to express our uncensored individual self. That is what Mary gets out of riding her Harley.

You can't tell her what you feel without hurting her feelings. But letting go of the feeling that you are responsible for another's actions will give you the feeling of freedom Mary feels as she rides her motorcycle.

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com" target="_new">www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.


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