Multicultural Resources The Art of Interracial Marriage

Newly Married And Fighting For Love During COVID-19 Closed Borders

Newly Married And Fighting For Love During COVID-19 Closed Borders

COVID-19 And Cross-Cultural Marriage

I’ve been following Kylie and Madhav on social media for some years. My heart was filled with jubilation after seeing their nuptials five months ago in India. Again, love wins! However, yesterday, Kylie shared that it has been five months since she has seen Madhav, with no reunion in insight. She has contacted the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India only to be met with unanswered emails and requests for transparency being wholly ignored. Therefore, I asked them to share some of their cross-cultural love journey to provide more visibility for the thousands of families in similar situations and how we can help.

About

Kylie is Black, with some Jewish and Irish ancestry. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, USA. Madhav is Tamil with roots in Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka. He was born and raised in Chennai, India. While Madhav often calls Kylie கண்ணம்மா, she usually refers to him as புருஷன்.

How They Met

Fate brought them together in early September 2014 during Kylie’s first visit to Chennai, India. On her first day in the city, she decided to visit the famous கபாலீசுவரர் கோவில் (a renowned Shivan temple in Chennai’s Mylapore neighborhood). Once inside the temple, she asked a young man near the entrance if he could help her understand what was happening in the temple as she did not speak Tamil at that time. That young man was Madhav, and he was gracious enough to explain the history of the temple to her as well as translating some of the shlokas being recited in its interior.

After departing from the temple, Madhav and Kylie kept in touch intermittently over the next two years.  Until August of 2016 when they met again in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over the following few months, they traveled all over Southeast Asia together, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

How Long Have They Been Together

They officially began dating around தீபாவளி (Deepavali) 2016, and they finally tied the knot on February 14, 2020.

How Did They Know They were Meant To Be Together

Madhav and Kylie have always had the sense of having known one another in a past life or incarnation. Even back in 2016, they seemed deeply familiar with each other.

How Was Meeting Madhav’s Parents For The First Time

Sadly, Madhav’s mother and father passed away in 2012 and 2010.  Therefore, Kylie never had the chance to meet them.

However, the first time that Kylie met his family in India, they were very welcoming. Kylie imagines that they were somewhat surprised to see a Black girl rocking two-strand twists and a silk sari, though! When she was living in Chennai, his family helped her learn the Tamil language, and they taught her dozens upon dozens of Tamil recipes that she now cooks on a daily basis.

How Was Meeting Kylie’s Parents For The First Time

Madhav’s first meeting with Kylie’s family went quite smoothly. Her family is comprised of people of African-American, Caribbean, Chinese, and Indian descent, so interracial unions are pretty standard for them. One of her aunts from Queens has been married to an Indian man from Grenada for 40 years, so Madhav and Kylie aren’t even the first Black and Indian aka Blindian couple in her family.

When And Where Did They Get Married

Madhav and Kylie tied the தாலி on the coast of the Bay of Bengal at the MGM Beach Resort just south of Chennai on February 14, 2020, or 2020 மாசி 2 as per the Tamil calendar. However, their nuptial ceremonies spanned several days from February 12 -February 16 and took place in India and Sri Lanka.

When Was The Last Time They Saw Each Other Face-To-Face 

The last time they saw each other was February 19, 2020. They were planning to travel to Malaysia for a friend’s wedding this spring, and Kylie had planned to be in India in May (for her தாலி பிரிச்சி கோக்குறது ceremony). Unfortunately, their plans were completely upended by the advent of worldwide COVID-19 travel restrictions and their ability to start their married life together in the U.S. has been halted.

What Is The State Of Their Petition To Live Together In The U.S.

Madhav and Kylie are currently stuck in the final stages of their petition to live together in the United States. They have cleared all administrative hurdles over the course of 12 months and paid well over $1,000 U.S. dollars in fees. However, the final step requires Madhav to appear at the U.S. consulate in Mumbai for an interview.  But, dolefully, the U.S. embassy and consulates in India have been closed since March.

How Has COVID-19 And The U.S. Embassy And Consulates In India Closures Impacted Their Marriage

These last five months have been extraordinarily painful. The worst thing isn’t the wait; it’s not knowing when this will all end. Madhav and Kylie have been through difficult moments in the past, but the length of this extended period of uncertainty is something they have never encountered. This time of separation hasn’t affected – nor will it ever affect – how they feel about one another. However it has forced them to delay their plans for building their life together and starting a family.

How Are They Coping As A Couple During This Time of Uncertainty 

They support one another as we can emotionally. But, honestly, Madhav has been more of an emotional support to Kylie than vice versa. Sometimes, her anxiety gets the better of her.   And Madhav always has a way of holding her hand through those moments.

Keeping Their Marriage Intact Despite The Unknown

For their birthdays, they each secretly compiled a video of friends wishing them happy birthday and sent it to each other. Additionally, they try to watch the same movies occasionally, and they have video calls at least twice per day. Also they are both really into politics.  As a result, they share political articles with each other throughout the day and enter into long debates. Moreover, Kylie has been taking formal Tamil classes so that by the next time they see each other, she might be able to carry on a conversation in Tamil with Madhav’s family.

What Steps Have They Taken To Contact The U.S. Embassy And Consulates In India

Over the past several months, they have repeatedly emailed and tweeted the U.S. consulate in Mumbai and the U.S. Department of State to ask when U.S. consular staff in Mumbai will resume their work.  And last week, Kylie began sending letters to her elected officials at the federal, state, and municipal levels, including Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Governor Cuomo.

To date, not a single representative from the U.S. consulate in Mumbai or the Department of State has shared any information pertaining to when the U.S. embassy and consulates in India will resume the adjudication of family reunification visas despite their multiple outreach attempts.

What Can We Do Right Now To Help

Understandably all of our lives are being disrupted by COVID-19. Still, if readers of this article could take 10 seconds to sign and share this petition, they would be helping out many thousands of families like theirs, who are kept apart by the continued closure of U.S. embassies and consulates around the world: https://bit.ly/2AP7WAA.

Thank you Kylie and Madhav for sharing your journey with us! Are you dealing with a similar situation? Or do you have a question for us? Write to us @growingupgupta@gmail.com!

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