This is a delightful book, and I love the characters. Now I am pretty sure that Savitri and Saroj’s mother are one and the same. Little Savitri is a special girl who is able to talk to animals and her grandfather thinks she has the gift to heal. Mrs Lindsay thinks that she should have a proper education and tries to persuade her father to let her attend the classes of David’s tutor. Even though it is a big opportunity for her, her father is not in agreement, claiming that it is not right that a girl had a better education than her brothers. This is so sad to see how women were treated, especially by those who were supposed to love her. In the end the man accedes only because Mrs Lindsay agrees to let her brother Gospal to attend the lessons as well. That respite doesn’t last long as two years later when Savitri is still seven, her father announces that he has found a husband for her, so she needs to go to Bombay and stay with his brother. There will a betrothal, and when Savitri turns fourteen, she will marry this man. Mrs Lindsay is horrified and upset that this man could sacrifice his daughter’s education like this.
That night Mrs Lindsay can’t think of anything else. Then she comes up with an idea. She will reserve some money for Savitri, which she will only get when she gets eighteen, on the condition that she stays in Madras and continues her education. Mrs Lindsay feels proud of her brilliant idea, but then she hears some voice, and when she approaches the window, she recognises her son’s and Savitri’s voices. He is telling that he will only marry her, and Savitri swears that she won’t marry anyone as she loves her so much. I think that now Mrs Lindsay will want Savitri as far away as possible.
In the parts about Nat and the doctor, they receive the visit of Gopal, Savitri’s brother, who Nat has to call uncle. From the first, Nat doesn’t like the man, and when he is alone with him, Gopal tells the boy that he needs to come and live to Madras with him and his wife. The way he insists makes Nat dislike him very much, and then in the house he hears his father arguing with Gopal, and Nat prays that Gopal leave. So the next day he is gone, and he is utterly relieve. What Gopal wants is for the boy to have the opportunities that money can give him, but he thinks that the doctor, who I am pretty sure is David, is denying him those privileges by keeping him in this poor village. David, though, believes that this is the best way to bring Nat up. I am curious to know about Nat’s origin. Savitri is certainly his mother, and I imagine that David is also his birth father. But what happened? I guess that Savitri and David loved each other, and maybe Savitri found out she was pregnant when he was away, maybe studying in England. Feeling alone, she only had an option: leave the child in an orphanage. Then David returned to find her gone – living in another country and married to another man – so he found his son and took him out of the orphanage. But what do Savitri’s brothers have anything to do with the child? When they were arguing, David accused Gopal of not telling him the truth.
In Guiana Saroj befriends a girl, Trixie, an African girl. Trixie’s mother is Lucy, who is the minister of health, and Saroj admires her because the woman is trying to put a ban on Indian girls being forced to marry so young. Saroj decides that she wants to be the rebellious girl who she feels inside. The two girls pact that when they turn sixteen, they will travel to London so that Saroj escapes the man she is supposed to marry and Trixie to be with her father. Saroj keeps lying to her family about Trixie. Her sister is to be married soon, and her wedding sari is already at home. So when the house is alone, Saroj and Trixie sneak inside because Trixie wants to see it. When they see the beautiful sari, Trixie asks her to wear it. Then her father catches them, Saroj panics and urges Trixie to run. Saroj tries to escape, but her father catches her but she tells herself that she won’t be the little, docile girl she used to be. So she fights him and bites him so hard that her father has to release his hold, and Saroj manages to leave.
The problem is that Saroj knows that the punishment will be terrible. So soon she learns that the date of her marriage has been brought forward, so instead of at sixteen, she will get married at fourteen, and on top of that, she will be wearing the sari that she was caught in. Poor Saroj. I hope that she will get out of this mess. Maybe her mother can help; the problem is that Saroj’s opinion of her mother is a poor one, and I bet she can be surprised if she were to learn what her mother is really like. I feel sorry for the woman who seems to be invisible for everybody.