Dec 102009

Being South Asian in the South is an intriguing concept. This is is
Shortly before expecting to go away to college, pressures and conflicts at home got to be too much and after a violent triggering event at home and then not sleeping for three days and much public drama, I ended up in the hospital for three weeks. Part of the time was to put weight on me, as I had lost about 40 lbs (from 95lbs).

What was also traumatic was the response from the Indian community. Meetings were held about me, led it seemed by my best friend’s mother. It was assumed drugs were behind what happened to me, which was completely false (I was never around them). During this time, my admission to Carolina was apparently canceled by my family, along with my dreams of my future. I went from being considered a star in the community to being maligned. At a gathering, I overheard a man say that they didn’t bring their kids to Charlotte because of me. A friend asked why I was smiling at another gathering.

My mother decided that a solution to this problem (and disgrace) would be to get me married. A 24 year-old software engineer in Pittsburgh was chosen. I saw him three times and after reviewing his resume that showed a 4.0, I tried to speak up for my life and stated I didn’t want to marry him. I was not his employer and his GPA was irrelevant. He began to cry. My mother told me to not be rude to him. So this meant I was supposed to marry him? My father stated that they would take my car away and not let me go to the local university. I was further told that they were planning to move to India and they needed to sell the house. So I was supposed to get married to accommodate their desire to move to another country, away from all 4 kids. This was 1986 and they did not actually move until 1992, two years after I graduated from college and a year after my arranged marriage ended (after 5 years).

I started to see that the only way to leave my family and the trapped environment would be to marry this man and move to another city. This would lead me to transfer from UNC-Charlotte to The University of Pittsburgh, eventually, as that would be near my future husband’s home. I lost my scholarships and aid from Carolina and still carry student loan debt for U-Pitt.

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