It was just like any other day for Faiz and Ankita in IIM Indore when they were struck by love at first sight. You know what they say about love, it sees no reason, religion, colour or caste, just the person in front of you in their truest form. And those are the people we fall in love with, flesh and blood, the way they look at the world, their thoughts and ideas. It’s a shame though that often prejudice rears its ugly head to destroy peace and harmony.
Faiz and Ankita knew from the onset that their journey was not going to be an easy one. Faiz belonged to a progressive Muslim family while Ankita’s family were Hindus who hailed from Hisar.
Though they were both sure about each other, their families weren’t. At a loss initially, the couple decided to give up on the relationship figuring their families deserved peace of mind but 3 or 4 days apart were enough to make it clear that they couldn’t imagine a life without each other and moreover, they deserved to be happy.
Inter-religious marriages are still a social taboo due to misplaced beliefs but the duo weren’t going to let that stop them.
They set about convincing their parents and putting concerns at rest, but it wasn’t an easy task. Vastly different religion, cultures and traditions, lifestyle and social mores had them doubting the match.
They were worried that Faiz would be allowed to have four marriages, that the cultural shift would be too jarring for Ankita to adapt to and that she would have to accept lifestyle choices such as non-vegetarian food, which were alien to hers. After 2 and a half years, they finally resolved to get married no matter what. In a last attempt, to make Ankita’s parents warm up to Faiz, he arrived unannounced at her door. As Ankita narrates,
The boyfriend, unannounced rings my doorbell, taking my Papa completely by surprise. My mom turned red, she did not know whether to make ‘chai’ or run inside the room and burst out crying. Papa, very calmly, went inside, changed out of his home clothes into something more formal. I was terrified, but knew that we could not have postponed this further. Then there was a long monologue by my boyfriend – explaining how he will not convert my religion or change my name or make me eat non-veg or make me follow his culture or make me wear a burkha or marry anyone else or whatever other doubts my parents expressed in the last 2 years. He ended by saying he will pamper me as much as my Papa did as he knew that he could not pamper me more! At this point in time, any Bollywood movie would have shown a teary eyed Dad get up from the sofa and hug the hero, but that did not happen in my story. My Dad asked my boyfriend to leave (respectfully so), promising him that he will never ever be part of this marriage or our lives if we decided to live it together. I was crying of course, but not because I had to choose. I had made my choice 2 years back already when I had told my parents. I was crying because I had somehow wished to magically change my Dad’s 50 years of thinking in that one meeting, but we failed. We however realised that it was time to step on the peddle and accelerate our lives out of this everyday emotional drama that had engulfed us all.
To set their concerns at rest, Faiz decided to have four marriages, all of them with the one woman he loves. On 17th February, Faiz and Ankita exchanged varmalas in a small Ram mandir at the foot of the Mahalaxmi temple.
They then went on to have a court marriage under the Special Marriage Act which does not allow Muslims to marry four times.
Both wanted to make their wedding, one of the best memories in their lives and so gathered their close friends and took off to Goa for a beautiful wedding amidst scenic beaches. They married each other once again in a nikah, surrounded by friends and family.
Their wedding culminated in seven pheras around sacred fire to the roar of the waves.
It’s been 2 years since they got married and embarked on their path as one whole. Ankita’s family have grown to love Faiz and accept him as family. The two still practice different religions, she has not changed her name nor has she given up on her beliefs. In harmony, they celebrate Eid with pomp in Faiz’s household and enjoy Diwali in Ankita’s home. They were clear that neither would have to live a life of compromise.