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Asif and Diya live in love despite surging hate around

Rita Farhat Mukand/Darjeeling

A decade ago Asif and Diya (Names have been changed on request) met in the chilly month of enchanting November in the Darjeeling hills during the glimmering season of Diwali. With the hills lit up with glowing Diwali lamps, sparkling lights, and warm bonfires, something magical transpired in their lives.

While the political climate was a bit tumultuous with the Gorkhaland movement resurging again, Asif, a software engineer was also an entrepreneur running his business and rarely had time for anything. Days were hard with endless bunds and curfews, he fell in love with Diya as soon as he set his eyes on this college girl. He found her, bright and pretty and decided he wanted her in his life.

After a month-long courtship, they were husband and wife and the wedding happened without the knowledge and approval of their family. Both came from different religious faiths – Diya was a Hindu and Asif a Muslim.

The couple shifted to Kolkata for Diya had completed her college and wanted to study further and Asif took up a job

Both their families initially resisted this announcement, for obvious reasons but finally gave in reluctantly. 

Diya’s father, as an educational head in a top position, had secular values but was worried about the outcome of this union. Diya said her parents were very open-minded loving people. At the time of the wedding, Asif’s father told Diya that as she would be part of the home, she would have to respect their religious beliefs and with that, the father took care of the wedding arrangements. It was evident that while both sides of the family were not too happy about this, they came to a place of reluctant acceptance of the decision of their children. 

After the marriage, life was busy. Immersed in her career of teaching, Diya spent many long constructive hours teaching while Asif set up his thriving business as a software engineer with his app for schools to boost learning and enhance school administration. Diya expressed that living in Asif’s parent’s home also called for immense adjustments from her side and at times, it was very hard. 

The bright point was Asif always encouraged her, thus she rose above the difficulties.

The beautiful turning point came with the birth of Asif and Diya’s twins when the proud grandparents’ hearts melted and all walls of resistance came tumbling down wrapping the family together closer. The twins are now four years old and their births normalized family relations immediately, as Asif says.

The dark side of their story is while they both were fairly open about their marriage and Diya had even been invited to television shows to share about their harmonious interreligious blend, as many people in India are quite curious about interfaith unions, things did not fare well when their story was streamlined on Facebook. Due to a steamy rising resistance to interfaith marriages with the public becoming more vocal than normal, the couple started to face new difficulties they never dreamt of.

Both Asif and Diya expressed, “We felt very strange to see all the hate comments about our marriage on social media and while we were happy, it felt odd that people who did not know us were saying all kinds of obscene things to us for getting married!” As they now had their toddler twins, they requested anonymity when sharing their story.

Diya had confided that during her visits to the vegetable market, certain vendors would disdainfully regard her due to her marriage to someone outside their community. This revelation momentarily sent shockwaves through their understanding of societal acceptance in the 21st century. However, both Diya and her partner have since learned to gracefully overlook such comments, realizing that the strength of their marriage far surpasses the fleeting opinions of unknown onlookers.

The heartening aspect of this narrative lies in the reciprocal respect the couple shares for each other and their respective religions. Before Asif visits Diya’s home, he wholeheartedly embraces all the customs of her household. Diya pays due respect to her in-law’s faith. The families come together to celebrate various festivities, including Eid, Diwali, and other occasions.

Asif said, “Our relations with both sides of our families normalized after the birth of our twins. There was greater mutual respect, understanding, and liberty from both sides of the family and we have a good relationship.”  

The key to the strong foundation of Asif and Diya’s marriage is their open communication, mutual respect, understanding, and commitment to building a life together that embraces and celebrates diversity. Both partners consistently work together to find common ground while upholding each other’s identities and beliefs. It is a very big boost to their marriage that Asif and Diya have the support from understanding from friends, and family members to navigate the complexities of their Hindu-Muslim love relationship.

 

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