Two summers ago, I went to visit my cousin at university and ended up falling for one of her friends. Badly. We spent most of my break hanging out and there was an immediate feeling of chemistry. To my surprise, he ended up asking me out before it was time for me to leave and even telling me he loved me. I was taken aback, seeing as it had only been a matter of three weeks, but equally charmed by his honesty and the fact that he was above bullshit.
I agreed and we began a long distance relationship that was easy enough to maintain. We were both at university and had more than enough free time to while away hours on Skype and FaceTime.
Christmas break rolled around and without even informing my family, I made plans to go and visit Ketan again. I didn't even think twice about it. But when I got home for Christmas, my family surprised me and said we were heading to Goa. Everyone including my brother, his wife and the kids.
I was so irritated. I had booked my perfect holiday with Ketan and now this was happening. I had no choice but to come clean and communicate what had been my agenda for the holidays. This was when I found out how my family felt about him. How they resented the fact that he had not made any effort to come and see me or meet the family, how I had changed since being with him, how the whole scenario was too rushed for their liking, and much more.
I didn't listen and shrugged it off without thinking much. I spoke to Ketan later on the phone and explained to him what had happened; he felt the same level of angst and urged me to tell them that we had already made our bookings, etc.
I did just that and my parents didn't contest my decision. They weren't that sort of people, and ultimately weren't willing to fight over something like this. But they certainly made their feelings clear.
Our holiday was nice enough. His ex-girlfriend was also there as they had mutual friends who wanted to be together for the holidays. His friends were sweet and welcoming. My cousin had gone home to be with her family, so I didn't really know anyone too well. Still, it was enjoyable.
Did it compare to the photos I saw on Facebook of my family sitting together to enjoy a Goan feast? No. Or the video I saw of my niece taking her FIRST ever steps? Let's not forget the heart-wrenching sound byte I got sent from my nephew asking why I wasn't there.
Ketan and I broke up shortly after. It's hardly worth writing about. Long story short he cheated. But that's not what I care about.
After that Christmas, things took a turn. My dad had a minor heart attack, my brother and his wife ended up getting divorced and the kids now live with her in a completely different part of town. Would me have being there stopped all this from happening? Probably not. Would I have been able to enjoy one last memory of my family being together and happy? Yes.
It's been about two years, but to be honest there is guilt inside me that will never subside for having picked a guy over my family, for whatever reasons... It's important to remember that there are moments we will never get back - yes, that involves choosing wisely, but sometimes it also involves just spending a bit of time with your family.
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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Published on Dec 23, 2015