I am writing to you to apologize for our abrupt breakup, which has probably left you with some unanswered questions. I know that you may not understood why I left, but hopefully this letter will be able to explain to you why I left, and why I wrote you this letter.
We are from two different worlds. You knew me as Nikhil, but my name has always been Gogol. It took an emotional experience for me to realize how much I was neglecting my Bengali culture. When I was with you, it was lovely. However, I wasn’t able to be open with you because I couldn’t see my real identity. In our relationship, I focused more on how I appeared to you and your family. By moving in with you, I surrendered my own sense of self to be with you. I rarely went home to my family, and felt ashamed of my Indian culture. Your parents made me feel apart of your family, even throwing me a birthday party, but I already had a family that I was neglecting to be apart of yours. At first it was ideal as I was able to be unreachable from them, but I could never relate to your family’s friends, as they couldn’t see past my racial identity, like me.
My father passed away. It was a total shock, and something that unexpectedly changed my life, in more ways than one. While your family is the ideal American family that appealed to my need to shed my Indian culture, my family is true to their Bengali roots that I had tried to ignore. The internal struggle led me to be less open and in a way invisible in our relationship. When my father passed, something inside forced me to not only reconnect with my family but with my roots. This reconnection however, drove us apart, because ironically you felt I spent too much time with my family. Yet, the sudden loss helped me to realize that I was never truly myself when I was with you. The time I spent cleaning my father’s apartment, going through his things, and spending the night at his place made me realized how much I truly missed him. I regret that we were partying all the while my father laid dead in the hospital. When you came to see me after he passed, I know you felt the distance, but I felt like you represented a life that I thought I wanted. The life I wanted was to remain with my family and learn who I truly was.
My family and my culture is what makes me the man I am. All those years I tried to run away from my culture. I didn’t realize the point of my name, and I couldn’t relate to the customs my family valued. I thought changing my name, going far away from home, and getting American girlfriends would mean something. Yet the inability for me to be myself brought the downfall in our relationship. My Bengali culture is important part of my life and my family’s, people on the outside probably couldn’t understand the culture, for a while I didn’t understand, but now I do. My name was very important to my father I just realized it too late. Embracing my culture meant to embrace my name, and being true to who I was meant to be. Thinking about my father made me realize what he told me on trip we took and he forgot to bring his camera, he said, try to remember it always… remember that you and I made this journey. That applies to our relationship as well, we had a good relationship, and we should remember it always.
Sincerely Your Friend,