Of Marriageable Age 5 (Chapters 16 – 26 )



The characters in the three timelines grow in age and also experiences. When Nat is sixteen, he is sent to England to study. Before that, he asks his father to find him a wife as he is fascinated by women, but the doctor tells him that he should be able to choose his own bride. So Nat leaves for London, and it is there where he discovers women and women discover him. Nat claims that women seek his soul, and they are willing to give him their bodies. It is strange that Nat, who claims to be all spirit, seems to be quite a womaniser.

As for Savitri, the Admiral, David’s father, discovers that she has the gift when one day he goes out into the garden and when the girl touches, he recovers the use of his right hand. The Admiral and Mrs Lindsay think that the girl is special, and thanks to this belief, Savitri stays in Madras and doesn’t have to marry the man her father had chosen for her. Yet, Fiona, David’s sister, returns from London after a spell there, and she gets swept off her feet by Gopal, Savitri’s brother. So they elope, but they are intercepted and brought home. Fiona and David are packed to England, and before he goes, he and Savitri promise to write.

Missing David, Savitri keeps writing to him and giving the letters to Mrs Lindsay to post them. Yet, she never receives any letters from him, but she still perseveres. Then one day she discovers one of her letters in a bin, so she realises that Mrs Lindsay has never posted the letters. So she decides to find out David’s address and writes a letter, explaining what had happened in these months and how much she still loves him. David finally replies, and he also says he misses her and India, but she notices that there is no words of love, so distance has dwindled his love.

Life continues for Savitri as she keeps helping her father in the kitchen and also working as a nanny because she has special skills to calm babies. At seventeen she is betrothed to a widower who she will marry when she turns eighteen. David returns and as soon as she sees his old friend, he falls in love with her. From the first, David declares his love and remind her of his promise. Savitri, who is more aware of their reality, tells him that it is impossible for them to think of a future in common, but David won’t hear anything else. David believes that his mother will support them and will stop Savitri’s family from marrying her off to that widower. Yet, Savitri knows that he is too blind to see the reality and begs him to keep the secret. However, David finally decides to tell his mother, and Mrs Lindsay naturally reacts with hostility, telling him that he will only marry Savitri over her dead body. Then in the dead of night David goes to find Savitri, tells her about his mother, and begs her to run away with him. Savitri argues that they have nothing, but David says that nothing matters, so they escape and David takes her to a house where their old teacher lives.

We now know that Saroj’s mother is Savitri, and she told her daughter that at seventeen she married and then became a widow, and after that, she married Saroj’s father. But I wonder if that is the truth. What happened to her and David? Were they found out? Or did they live as husband and wife even though they weren’t married? And what about Nat? We know that he is Savitri’s son, and we can imagine that David is his father, so what happened? How come that Savitri didn’t keep the baby? Maybe David had to go to war, and maybe in that time Savitri gave birth, her brothers found her and forced her to give up the baby and sent her to Guiana to be married.

In 1964 Saroj is desperate, and her desperation for freedom makes her rebel. So every day she goes out with Trixie, dresses in western style, and hangs out with children. At some point she gets a bit bored as she sees no sense in it, but it is the only way she has to express her outrage. When her father finds her with Trixie, once again she suffers the consequences and he locks her up in a room. Saroj feels miserable as she plans her liberation of her miseries, and then she rushes up to the tower, planning to jump and kill herself. A small crowd gathers below, including Trixie, and when her mother sees her daughter there on the edge, she quietly walks up the stairs, and comforting Saroj, she manages to steer her away from the window.

Then the woman talks to Saroj, and little by little the girl opens up to her. Saroj says that she doesn’t want to marry the Ghosh boy or anybody for that matter. Her mother assures her that she won’t have to get married as she will talk Baba out of it. I like what she says about her husband, saying that she loves him because those who behave like monsters are in more need of love as they are unhappy deep inside. What she tells Saroj about her hatred and how that hate will hurt her more than those she hates. When Saroj tells her that her dream is to go to London and study law at university, her mother laughs as she tells her that she also desired the same when she was young. So at that point we know that she is Savitri, as at seventeen she wanted to become a doctor and study to be one. Savitri tells her daughter that if she longs to go to university, she should study hard as her teacher apparently told her that Saroj could get a scholarship and go to university. So from that moment onwards, all Saroj does is study and work hard.

I think that old Savitri is hiding something. Saroj knows that her mother goes to the temple every day and spends most of the afternoon there. Yet, when she gets a call that her sister is in labour and is going to give birth, she rushes to the temple to get her mother. Yet, they tell her that Mrs Roy is not there; it is true that she comes to the temple every day, but never stays long. So Saroj wonders where her mother goes every day, and she asks her mother, but Savitri keeps quiet. I am curious, and I am glad to see that Saroj is discovering that there is more to her mother than meets the eye.


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