When I was a 20-year-old, my parents ideal partner for me would be a Sunni Muslim, in the upper-middle to rich socio-economic class, fair-skinned and from a “respectable” family.
He should be someone they’d “approve” of and proudly talk about with their relatives back home in Pakistan.
But I met and fell in love with Sai a Hindu-Indian at at a university graduation party in 2012.
Back in our countries, Sai and I would have legitimately feared for our lives and our safety if our families and communities didn’t accept the relationship.
But in Canada, we didn’t feel afraid. We didn’t need to sneak around. We could love and explore each other freely and openly and not be ashamed for wanting to be with the person with whom we shared a cosmic connection.
Sai wasn’t a Muslim and it never mattered to me, what mattered was that he loved me and respected me for who I was, and he respected himself and saw that life was too short to live according to someone else’s expectations.
Both of our families were initially pleased with our union. My parents would belittle Sai at any opportunity they got. We eventually cut contact when things got really bad — an estrangement that lasted over a year.
Today, after more than six years, Sai and I have managed to bring our families together and show them that our partner’s religion or skin-colour really does not matter.
This country has given me the space to make my own choices and take control of my life in every way imaginable — particularly in love.