I was wondering how to approach this, and then a couple of weeks ago, I read the story of a Muslim man and Sikh woman who faced fierce opposition to their love in their community in London when they started dating as teenagers, and have remained together for 24 years.
The tensions between Sikhs and Muslims in India is the subject of whole books, and I gravitated toward that story because it is one I can relate to in a small way. My parents did not approve of my relationship with and marriage to my wife.
The opposition to it was there before they met her and it didn’t really get better. They never took the time to get to know her, and only came around once it was clear I wasn’t going to change my mind. We started dating back in 2015, and got engaged in July 2016 and did our court marriage in November 2016, with neither of my parents present.
Purely by circumstances of our birth, there are many things we have no control over. We cannot control where we are born, the year in which we are born, the identities of those we are born to, our genes, and so on. Because of this, we must take every opportunity to shape our lives deliberately, and there are few bigger opportunities than who we choose to date or marry.
That decision must never be anyone else’s to veto, whatever their reasons are. This is my view, at any rate.
The wedding was in September, and the lead up to it was stressful, especially because I got a new place just the month before. Anyone who can avoid looking for a house in Lagos at the same time as planning a wedding, should do so. It’s no joke.
My overwhelming sense at the end was one of relief and of peace. You never know how you are going to react in certain situations until you are faced with them. I’m proud to say I did it my way.
The woman I have married is an amazing person, well worth any minor, fleeting inconvenience. It’s weird looking back now, because if we didn’t meet at the precise place we met, we may never have met at all. Deciding to be with her is already looks like my best ever decision, and I can’t wait for the future to unfold for us.
Elsewhere, I’m ending 2017 the way I ended 2016: training for another Lagos Marathon. Running has become for me a kind of therapy, one of my safe spaces where I can think and have internal shouting matches and gain clarity. Every time I hit the road, I’m reminded that in the end, we all run our races alone. This is not to say that we won’t have running partners along the way, but past a certain point, no one can share the specific experiences you go through in the marathon that is life.
Facing this reality helps me strive to remain true to myself at all times.
Right now, I’m feeling grateful for the year that’s about to end, and making plans for what I’m optimistic will be another year of progress.
Happy holidays to everyone!
Thank you for sharing your story Joachim! You were very bold. Looking forward to reading your wife’s account of the year this evening.
Please, all this running, please run for President.