Open Letter to my Future Partner

Dear Future Partner,

I don’t know where you are and when we’ll meet. This might be presumptuous of me but I wanted to tell you a few things first hand. I never really looked for you. I know I should’ve but I thought you’ll come find me instead.

They taught me to dream big and break boundaries. They told me that this world is your oyster. So I started believing that to be the truth - that I have to reach for the unattainable because there is no other way to be.

I said no to parties that I should have gone to. I said no to boyfriends who wanted to live happily ever after. I said no to lifelong passions that were not going to lead me anywhere. I said goodbye to my friends and family and came to a land far far away to get one step closer.

I was always a very serious kid. Always curious to get to the bottom of each puzzle. I took my own sweet time to get to the conclusion. I thought about war and peace, wealth and poverty, honesty and corruption, patriarchy and feminism when my peers were thinking about what dress to wear in the evening, how to pass a test without actually ever reading the book, what movie to watch on their first date or simply whom to make plans with on the weekends.

I wasn’t the smartest kid in the classroom and never wanted to be. But I cared a lot. And sometimes, they would ask me, why do you care so much? I shrugged and always thought to myself, if nobody cared about anybody then who will?

They taught me that women and men are equal. They told me that I should always ask questions when something was not right, to stand up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves, to respect authority but not be a slave to it.

So I did. I competed with my brothers to beat their high scores in video games. Played kabbadi with neighborhood boys and fought for every point. Defended our fortress on Holi from a whole battalion of hooligans waiting to plunder and call it even. Spoke in innuendos that would make aunties feel skirmish and matched every drink for a drink when we sat at a local nukkad bar. Never waited for my crush to call me but went down on a knee and asked him out instead.

Daughters and sons are the same they told me as I watched my brothers sitting on a couch and watching TV endlessly while I went to get groceries or fold clothes that were out of the washer. You need to learn how to run a house, you’ll be married someday they told me.

I never really looked for you. I know I should’ve but I thought you’ll come find me instead.

I wanted to learn about my ancestors and family heritage. So I sat with my uncle one day and charted a family tree. We talked all afternoon and reached out to distant cousins to see where each branch led to. I asked him about one node that was marked as a dead end, he said, “She’s married now. She’s part of another family tree so this node is a dead end.”

Daughters and sons are the same they told me as it dawned on me that someday they wouldn’t consider me a part of this family as I would “belong” to someone else.

A family friend was visiting one day and he asked my mother, “When are you getting her married? We should start looking for her. The good crop goes quick you know?” and she replied, “Oh! She’s still too young. She wants to study. So no marriage for her now.” “Don’t make her study so much. Where will we find a groom with that much education?” he laughed.

So I said no to the thought of marriage as an institution. I laughed when my friends tried to set me up. I learned how to love with an open heart and opt for unconventional relationships without commitments that would hold me back. I dreamt louder and higher. “Be fierce and fearless. We are looking up to you,” one of my sisters encouraged me one day.

I never really looked for you. I know I should’ve but I thought you’ll come find me instead.

Sometimes, I worry that I’ll find you unknowingly. We’ll meet and everything will change because they say that love is blind. I’ll forget my dreams and linger in the comfort of your cuddles instead. I’ll choose to settle for certainty over adventure because I won’t have the strength to be in a state of flux anymore. I’ll simmer this burning fire inside me and turn it into a lovable flame that keeps burning but never bright enough to light the room.

Sometimes, I worry that we both will end up compromising on our dreams and our future together. We’ll end up in a fight every time we don’t get what we want. I’ll keep compromising and postponing my plans for later because anyway, you get paid more so your work is more important and mine is just supplementary income and something to keep me occupied.

We’ll have children and I’ll absolutely adore them so much that I’d hate to leave them alone or miss their soccer practices or PTA meetings. I’ll miss deadlines at work and it won’t matter to me that much because our Lil Princess is down with chicken pox. Gradually, it won’t matter to me that I’m missing promotions. I know I didn’t deserve it since I didn’t put in enough hours.

We won’t travel to all the places we promised we would go to when we started dating because we have to save up for our daughter’s college education. I’ll forget who I am in the middle of being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a neighbor and a soulmate. I’ll stop writing and caring as much about the world.

Then someday, I’ll bump into my best friend from school after years of being out of touch and she’ll ask me, “Did you end up writing that book we used to talk about? I’d love to read a copy.” or “Did your restaurant finally take off? Invite me, I’d love to visit sometime.” And I’ll say something like, “Oh! We were such kids,” and close my eyes for a second or two longer to feel a gut wrenching twist.

I never really looked for you. I know I should’ve but I thought you’ll come find me instead.

Yours truly,

Present Prachi Gohil