Coming home had always been something I’d stubbornly avoided for as long as I could remember. The thought of living under restrictions, surviving with my parents constantly barking around my ears and having uncomfortable conversations with relatives you didn’t even know existed always frightened me. As you grow older, you tend to overcomplicate things as well. You carry more baggage, more secrets, more lies. You learn to hide these secrets and lies effectively over time. You only let these secrets out based on how comfortable you are with the people around you. When it comes to my family and I, well it’s easy to say that we’re not the closest.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. They’re a crazy bunch who would do anything to make me happy. It’s just that now that I’m older and more confident in who I am as a person, my body won’t let me go back to be that shy kid who continually obeyed anything and everything my family told me to do; even if it was wrong.
My thoughts were clouded with these unwanted disputes as I nervously fiddled with my boarding pass at the boarding gate to my flight. I was hoping my flight would get delayed just to string the ‘reunion’ a little further away, but to my utter surprise, it had been preponed. How exciting.
You must be wondering why I was so pessimistic about just going home. You see, I’ve been hiding a big secret from them for the past few years. A secret which I know my family would heavily frown upon. Revealing the secret may either result in my family being completely torn apart, or me losing everything I loved and cared for so dearly. There was no ‘win-win’ situation in any possible path I chose. You would think that residing in a country where the word ‘freedom’ was tossed out like confetti from a piñata, my family would be more understanding and accepting for the man I had become and how I lead my life.
As I sat down in my flight, my girlfriend clutched my hand and gave me a look of understanding. “It’s gonna be okay,” she muttered as I typed out a text to my mom informing her of my flight’s departure. I immediately got a text back saying “That’s amazing! Have a safe flight hun! The entire family is here to meet you!” They wouldn’t just be meeting me now, would they? I switched my phone off at that point and tried to make myself get some rest. A long week lay ahead of us.
The few hours after our arrival at Michigan city went by in a blur, all the while my tummy getting more and more restless as the minutes went by. I purposely insisted my family not to pick me up from the airport (which to my surprise, they actually agreed to), hence we booked an Uber to my parent’s home. Throughout the journey my palms were sweaty, my face flushed as I kept fidgeting from side to side. My girlfriend felt my quivering nerves and tried to hug me out of it, but it was all an exercise in futility. I could feel my stomach doing backflips continuously, and by the time I could calm myself down, we had arrived at our destination.
I paid the driver and helped ourselves up to the veranda of my house. I rang the doorbell thrice like I usually did, and prepared myself for the worst. Well here goes nothing.
The door swung open to my parents exuberant faces. They looked me up and down before diving into a bear hug, all the while planting kisses all over my face (still grosses me out to this day). They let go of me after 10 long minutes of cooing and telling me how much I’d changed, before stepping back and realising that there was another human being standing right next to me. They analysed her with confusion on their faces, before asking me about who she was. I gulped nervously.
“I just want you to hear me out before you guys say anything okay? Just don’t freak out.” They nodded in unison.
“Uh, this is my girlfriend, Hannah. We’ve been dating for 3 years now.” The confusion on their faces started to dissolve into a frown. “I’ve been wanting to tell you guys about her ever since we met, but I know how you guys view relationships in general. So, I stopped myself because I didn’t want there to be unnecessary drama when we already had enough on our plates. I just want you to accept her, accept us and give us your blessing.”
There was an awkward silence for about 5 minutes before my mom, holding a poker face, moved to the side and made way for us to enter their house. Not a word was uttered by my parents as we walked inside, just the sound of our footsteps echoing through the hallway. Curious stares were shared between my relatives, some in surprise, some in awe and some in disappointment, as Hannah and I made our way upstairs. Boy had we upset them.
We came downstairs a few hours later, gathering by the fireplace at the centre of the house. The room, filled with all of my relatives, was eerily quiet as we sat down. Hannah looked nervous for the first time in forever, looking around the place like a deer caught in the headlights. Boy had she handled all this like a champ. I’m just glad she hadn’t run away as soon as we got here. My mum and dad walked in soon after, serving us drinks. My mum called for a toast, catching everyone’s attention.
“Greetings everyone. Thank you all for gathering at our place this Christmas Eve. I’d like to share a toast in honour of our returning and new guests here. As we all know, the past few years haven’t been easy, with Andrew moving out, his sister getting married and what not. Whatever came, we faced it with our heads held high and kept ourselves happy throughout it all. And as we all know; our happiness lies in the happiness of our children.” The crowd hummed, and murmurs of agreement were heard from across the room.
“I would like to start the evening by sharing a quote said by Leo Tolstoy, ‘The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself, like a spider, in all directions an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes.” Was she saying what I think she was saying? Hannah and I exchanged shocked glances.
“With that said, I would like to give a warm welcome to Hannah, my would-be daughter-in-law to the Anderson family. We love you both with all our hearts, and we hope to see little grandkids running around the house very soon.” I rolled my eyes at that one, while Hannah blushed beside me.
“Merry Christmas everyone! Cheers!” The entire room filled with uproars of joy and excitement, as they hustled over to clink their glasses. Hannah was still processing what just happened, while I scooped her up into a bear hug and shared a light kiss. The family cheered in unison before they all started hugging us one by one, congratulating us on our relationship I couldn’t believe it. It felt amazing to finally let the people who I’ve loved the longest coexist with the person I loved the most. I guess the saying is true, the love and acceptance of a family is Life’s greatest blessing.
By Oeindrila Bairagi