Of Marriageable Age 2 (Chapter 2)

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SPOILERS!!!

The second chapter takes place in Georgetown, British Guiana, in 1956, nine years later than the first chapter. On this occasion the main character is Saroj Roy, a five-year-old girl. Saroj is of Indian ascent, and her father is very strict. As a matter of fact, Saroj is afraid of him and admits to herself that she doesn’t like him.

I have to confess I don’t know anything about Guiana, but from this chapter it seems that it is a place where a mixture of cultures and races coexist. Saroj’s father is a racist who shows clear hostility towards black people. Saroj, though, is happy to befriend the eldest son of the family next door, the Camerons. Wayne Cameron is her only friend as she is not allowed to invite children home. Her dad does not approve of the Camerons, but she goes to play with Wayne when he is not home. One afternoon, though, Wayne’s mother fills a plastic pool for the two children, and Saroj and Wayne splash around, play and shriek in pleasure. Suddenly, Saroj’s dad appears and he takes her home violently, and when they are inside, he whips her several times.

Saroj screams and cries but nobody comes to her help. Then her father tells her she has to write hundreds of times ‘I will never play with Negroes again’.  Shaking and in pain, poor Saroj focuses her energy on the task. Her mother, who is a very kind woman, comes, cleans her injuries and tells her to stop writing. After that day, Saroj’s father sends her nanny away and the Camerons also leave, and Saroj’s resentment grows because she feels lonely as the people who she loved are gone. Her mother tries to make her understand that despite the colour of our skin, we are all the same, but what is different is what is inside. This is her way to explain that his father’s inside is not very nice. I imagine that this woman was forced to marry him because otherwise, I can’t understand how such a kind-hearted woman could be in love with such a beast. Despite her mother’s words, Saroj is not appeased and she swears that she will hate her father until  the day she dies.

Another interesting character. I imagine that at some point the characters we are introduced to will come together, and I am curious how this will happen.

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