Dear baby, you're the only reason my parents went to our wedding!
Roshni Mahtani pens a heartfelt letter to her daughter on Racial Harmony Day, "We knew there was one thing that would change their minds about me marrying your father..."
My dearest Shan,
Yes, that’s you and me in my wedding dress. Being the only person who knows what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside, you must’ve known how excited I was that day. I was 2 months away from meeting you (!), marrying the man I knew the rest of my life would be better with, and we finally had the blessing of my parents, your Nani and Nana.
You see, they didn’t approve of me marrying your father. Not because they didn’t like or respect him – they did from the moment they met him. But because they felt I was rushing things and wished for me to be with someone who was Sindhi. Again, not because of racial or religious preference, but for the sake of our culture.
For decades, our people have been migrants who were banished from their homeland during the 1947 India and Pakistan separation. Making up a relatively small community (just 3,000 families in Singapore) that’s scattered all over the globe, how are we to preserve our culture and pass it on?
For this reason, Nani and Nana encouraged me to keep dating, to keep my options open. But I’d made my choice and had chosen superbly. Your father and I, while had only recently started dating, had been friends for a long time. He had seen me through ups and downs, devastating heartbreaks and broken promises.
He was kind, well-respected and I absolutely adored him, but the best part of it was that he respected me; both the ball-busting career me, and the occasional ‘vegged out on the sofa with unbrushed teeth and curlers in my hair’ me. We made a great team and we knew that we would have a great life together. And it wasn’t all starry eyed romance, we could sensibly see it, we could plot it out – we even have the Excel sheet to prove it.
But we wanted your Nani and Nana to see it too. We knew there was one thing that would change their minds about me marrying your father; and I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat this – that one thing was you. So we planned our wedding and you along with it.
Once we shared the news of your impending arrival, your grandparents were, quite understandably, incredibly furious. But we had guessed right, they finally saw how serious we were about our life together; and in time, came to accept your father; and in time, welcomed him with open arms. I have my suspicions that they now like him more than they like me!
To this day, I don’t know how to feel about the decision we made to conceive you before we tied the knot. Was it right, wrong, fair to you, to us, to your grandparents? We could argue on end about this, but the one thing I do know is how I feel about the result. I always say that hindsight is 20/20, and with it I can affirm that you are the one thing that brought so much peace and love to our lives.
I write this to you on Racial Harmony Day, because I see the best of us – the best of both worlds, in you. My eyes, your father’s complexion; my stubbornness, your father’s Joie de vivre (excitement about life); my taste for Dal and Roti (bread), and your Papa’s incredible appetite for Xiao Long Bao (steamed buns); your big gummy smiles at both Diwali and Chinese New Year; your acceptance of any situation we put you in, including staying long hours with us at the office, racking up your frequent flyer miles, and moving to new homes in new cities with us…
My wish for you as you grow older and wiser in this complicated world is to always have the desire to make it better. And at the root of that is the simple truth of having respect and love for EVERYONE residing in it. We all share a home; we’re all family. No matter the race, language, or religion, we’re all made of the same organic matter and beautiful mess of thoughts and feelings.
If you don’t believe me, watch a world destruction movie (I highly recommend Apollo 13). Or go ask your father. (He’ll tell you the same thing, but make you watch 28 days).
We love you, and this is the truth of how you came to be. How you are, and how you will be, is entirely up to you. Love, respect, be grateful, and do wonders, my little one. You’ve got it in you.