A Guest Contributor
“They destroyed our nation. They are rapists. They are murderers. They stole our land. They killed our people.”
My mom would always repeat this to me. She would tell me stories about the war and how brutally everyone had suffered. I, too, believed all her stories. She had brainwashed me into believing that all Sinhalese people were monsters.
My mom was a strong LTTE supporter just like many diaspora Tamils. I, too, supported the Tamil Tigers and attended all the rallies and protests they organized.
As I grew older, I was exposed to more issues. I harboured a deadly hatred as each part of my body and soul hated the Sinhalese.
I went to a mostly South Asian high school. I had a classmate who was a Muslim who spoke Sinhala. No one spoke to him or included him in any cultural events because he was seen as Sinhalese. I never felt that we were doing something wrong because I was always told that Sinhalese were bad. All of them.
When it was time to choose a university, I decided that I’d had enough with Tamils and their ignorance.
I chose the “whitest” university possible. After attending university for a couple of months, my perspective on the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict slowly changed. I started seeing them as humans.
That’s when my friend insisted that I download the app “Hot or Not”. As I casually rated the men and women, I came across a handsome male that took my heart at first sight. A couple of days later, I received a message from Mr. Handsome:
“Hi beautiful, how are you?”
My heart pounded. I was flying. For a second I thought that I was dreaming. After coming back to reality, I replied and started a conversation. We talked and shared a lot of thoughts for a couple of months before finally meeting in person.
One night while we were having dinner at a fancy restaurant, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I refused. I told him that there is no way I will ever be allowed to bring home a Sinhalese boy and say that I wanted to marry him.
From then on, I received a text message every day: “When will you accept my love?” as my good morning message. I was surprised at how he took everything so seriously. I could see it in his eyes.
Seeing him so dedicated to his words, I asked him to wait a year and ask me just to test if he really meant his “I love you”. Yes, I was such a jerk for doing that.
He introduced me to his mother. We hung out together all the time. I even neglected my friends for him. I was in love.
A year passed. On the same day at the same time and at the same place, he asked me once again to be his girlfriend. I was deeply in love with this man, and I couldn’t help but look into his eyes and say yes.
Despite my parents refusal to accept my love for him, I continued loving him.
A couple of months passed by. My mom found out about our relationship. She made a huge scene and threatened that she would jump off of Niagara Falls if I continued to see him. She also said that the Tamil community would speak poorly of me if they found out I had married a Sinhalese.
The Tamil community has been and continues to be close minded about interracial marriages.
Both Sinhalese and Tamils are from the same island, claiming their homeland as Sri Lanka. So why should there be a difference in how we treat them?
Why should we be prejudiced towards a whole ethnic group because of the actions of the government?
I have spoken to many of my cousins back home where culture and race are not an issue at all. There are many mixed marriages in Sri Lanka every year.
So why do we diaspora Tamils have to be so stubborn about our decisions and harsh with our words?
Four years have gone by. I love him more and more each day.
I would not change anything in our relationship. We have grown together, learning each other’s cultures and respecting them.
We are now engaged.
I want to prove to the Tamil community that being with who you love is more important than being with someone for the sake of parents’ wishes.
Mixed marriages can be successful.