Katja and I met in 2016 through an art exchange program. Besides my day job in the financial industry, I am a spoken word artist and have been performing actively in the Delhi NCR poetry circle (including an event for Gaysi!). Katja’s organisation was organising an Indo-US art and cultural exchange program for which I was selected as a spoken word artist from Delhi region. We met and although it was not “love at first sight”, I think we both felt an instant draw towards each other. As the days passed by with us spending some time working on the program, I was smitten by her. I hadn’t, in my wildest dreams, imagined that she would take any interest in me, but I guess I was wrong (luckily). For some strange unknown reason, she noticed me and reached out. We exchanged emails, phone numbers and social media handles to connect.
It was not until one month later that we decided to actually connect and say “hey”. But from that one “hey”, things just spiralled into this wonderful chaos and we found ourselves entangled and drowning in this insane attraction. We wanted to take it really slow and be very sure before we reached any conclusions. After about 2 months of just chatting, Katja packed her bags and left for India to spend some time with me and see how we feel. The day I picked her up at the airport I was so nervous that I couldn’t look at her straight so I kept glancing at her through the uber rearview mirror. That was just the beginning of what can only be called “fate”. We decided to officially go out after spending 15 days travelling and Katja got a new job offer that required her to travel to India thrice a year. That’s how we survived 4 long years of long-distance. Not to mention all that we have been through.
I think no amount of luck or love can make long-distance easier. It takes so much more than love. We have been through hell together and it has certainly taken so much more than love to keep the relationship alive. But through it all, we have grown and flourished and that is the essence of our relationship I guess. We support each other and believe in growth. Family was a different story but we have both been blessed with a family that does not always agree with us but still love us. So although my family does not completely understand my queerness, they love and accept me just the same. It took some time to bring everyone around and the news of the marriage was not easy but we made it through together and we survived.
India does not recognise same-sex marriage but thankfully Katja is a US citizen so we could marry in the states. But since I could not acquire a marriage certificate here, we had to apply for a fiance visa instead of spousal. It took almost 10 months to acquire the same and I was set to fly on April 9th to the states to get married. Because fiance visa does not come with a green card I had to quit my job before I left. However, all this went to another chaos when the border closing started happening due to COVID.
We got to know on 12th March that the US had started to close borders and in a rush, I wrapped up my whole life in 7 hours, booked a ticket for 14th and left for the US. Thankfully my work was super supportive and adjusted my notice period. But I arrived in NYC on 15th March and we realised public offices were closing. Fiance visa gives you 90 days to get married once you enter the US but we had to rush and get married on March 17th itself with none of our family there. It was a little sad but we still made it special in our own ways. We had two witnesses with us because and we went to the city hall and got married there. It was not the perfect grand affair but it was with her, so it was all that I wanted. We couldn’t go to any restaurant coz NYC had implemented lockdown but we bought a cake from our favourite bakery and had a small celebration at home. Also, we took the subway back home (I find that insanely amazing).
The status of life for us right now is that I am applying for my green card and would start looking for a job as soon as I get my green card. And we are settling into our new life and new home (we had to move to a new place amidst the COVID chaos, just our luck). But we are happy and healthy and together. Quarantining together and having a lot of unexpected time together.