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Marie Gerrina Louis




Ashok and Maddie are in love, but will Maddie's father Andrew give his English daughter to an Indian? Ashok graduated from the university in 1948 and everyone was proud of him. At twenty-three, he looked like one of those mythical warriors from the Mahabharata stories. Tall, lean and good-looking, he had all the girls at the university running after him. He flirted outrageously because he genuinely liked women, and he had enough charm to handle more than one at a time. But he kept them at a distance, the vision of Maddie's smiling face always coming in between.


One of those girls, however, was not deterred. She had been in all of his classes and graduated with the same degree, the same time he did, though she was a year older than he was. And Gowri Chandulal wanted Ashok Junos for herself.

Gowri had had the great fortune to be born into a wealthy family. And she was an only child. This was fortunate for her because she was not a very attractive child and needed all of her father's money if she wanted to secure a good husband. And that was Gowri's ultimate goal in life.

Her father Remesh, because his aims were similar to those of his precious daughter, did everything in his power to enhance her attractions. She had the best of everything from education to clothes and jewellery. If her mother had survived, Gowri might have been a very different child. Her mother's death only made her more precious to her father and it resulted in her being thoroughly and completely spoilt.


When Gowri's father came to Andrew's house for the first time, Andrew was puzzled to see him. Ashok and Maddie had gone to town to buy some things for the house. Motilal and his sons had gone with them so only Sita and Jawar were home. Jawar was in the garden when he saw the tall, distinguished gentleman walk gingerly up the driveway. Pursing his lips, Jawar followed him quietly into the house.

When Andrew realised that the man had come with a marriage proposal, he was astounded.

Remesh Chandulal was an important businessman. With his thick, black hair streaked with grey, and his expensive suit, he cut an impressive figure.

Andrew was impressed. The daughter of this man would be more than a suitable match for his protégé. But he wished he knew more about handling this sort of thing. Then he remembered that Sita was in the house. He called her and explained what Chandulal wanted.


"This is the sister of the boy," he said, introducing her to Chandulal who nodded, and then sniffed arrogantly. Andrew missed the sniff but Sita saw it and was offended. Who was this pompous ass who thought he had the right to sniff at her?

Chandulal had seen Ashok once, at a college function and had been very impressed with his manners and carriage. This woman looked common. Well, he supposed it didn't really matter. What Gowri and he wanted was the boy. That night, Sita and Motilal took Ashok aside and spoke to him.

"We have arranged a marriage for you," Sita began in her usual, blunt way.
"What?" demanded Ashok. He was angry. How dare they do that without even consulting him!


He looked to Motilal for support but even he seemed keen on the marriage idea.
"I don't think ..." he began.
"Sit down!" snapped Sita. "Now listen." She explained about Gowri Chandulal, and Ashok listened, growing more and more miserable all the time. Maddie, he thought, what will happen to us? His mind drifted. He remembered Gowri Chandulal or thought he did. A plain-looking girl with a mean mouth. How could they match him up with her?
"Why?" he asked his sister finally.
"Because she is a memsahib and you are a servant," replied his sister cuttingly, as she meant to do. "Because no matter how hard you try, without such a marriage, you will never reach her class. Never."
"How do you know? Perhaps the sahib will give his consent."

Jawar, who had been standing quietly, listening, laughed. "Education has caused your brain to rot. The sahib is a white man and you are an Indian. He is not going to give his white daughter to an Indian. Simple."


Motilal put a hand on Ashok's shoulder kindly. "Baba," he said, using the affectionate term for 'son' as he often did when he was concerned about Ashok, "you have to give in, this time. For the memsahib's sake if not for your own. You will realise in time, that this is the right decision. Please."

Moti's gentle request got through where the others' rough demands did not. Ashok put his head in his hands and nodded slowly. Moti hugged him and then warned him to tell Maddie nothing.

"She will not understand. You have not professed your ... any love feelings to her?" he asked anxiously.
"No, I am not as rash as you think."
"Good. It will be easier for her if she believes that you never loved her. If she knew the truth, she would fight this, and her father, hard. I know it for I remember her mother well and she is more like her."
Ashok looked up. "I thought her mother was a gentle lady."

Both Jawar and Motilal laughed softly. Then Jawar said, "She was a rock covered with cotton. It was she and not the sahib who controlled the family but she did it so pleasingly that the sahib never realised it."

When Maddie was told, by her father of all people, that Ashok's marriage was arranged, she blanched. Sita who was serving them dinner, watched her carefully. Then, like the true lady that Maddie was, she rallied and said that she would enjoy going to a traditional Indian wedding. Andrew laughed, not suspecting anything, and said that he rather looked forward to it too.

Later, when they were alone, she asked Ashok carefully, "Is it what you really want?'
"Yes. She will bring with her a good dowry and, more importantly, her father is offering me a good position in his company."
"But you don't say whether you love her, Ashok," she said gently.
His eyes seemed to grow smaller, as if he were feeling a lot of pain. "Sometimes love is not as important, memsahib."
"What else could be more important?" she demanded, angry that he was referring to her as memsahib when he'd always called her Maddie.


He turned on her angrily. "Gratitude! I owe your father for everything that I am today. If not for him, I might have died on the streets from hunger, or from cold or disease. What you get from him is your right, and you don't have to bother yourself with paying him back. But I owe him a debt and shouldn't I at least be grateful? I never want him to regret bringing me into his home."
"Ashok ... I ..." she stopped, tears running down her face. He loved her but he would never admit it now because of her father.
"You are upset, memsahib. Would you like to lie down?" he asked, her angry equal being replaced by a sympathetic servant.


When she didn't stop crying, he said quietly, "Forgive me, Maddie, but I cannot do what I want to do and still retain my pride or peace of mind. If marrying Gowri will give me both, then I shall marry her."

And he was gone. Behind a heavy velvet curtain, unseen, Jawar nodded his approval.

Source: New English Digest (Heinemann Asia)


looked like: seemed (parecía)
mythical warriors
: someone fabulous engaged in warfare (guerreros míticos)

: slim, not fat (delgado)
outrageously: in a very offensive manner (descaradamente)
deterred: showing discouragement (acobardada, desanimada)
wealthy: rich (rica, adinerada)
an only child: the only daughter (hija única)

to secure
: to obtain, to win, to have (conseguir, asegurarse)
ltimate goal in life: her main objective in life (su principal objetivo en la vida)
aims: goals, objectives (objetivos)
to enhance: to improve (mejorar, realzar)
might have been: could have been (habría podido ser)
: greedy, wanting and expecting everything (malcriada)
: carefully, cautiously (cautelosamente, sigilosamente)
pursing: contracting his lips into wrinkles or folds (frunciendo los labios)
: astonished (helado, pasmado)

protégé: a person who receives support and protection from an influential patron (protegido)
to sniff: to inhale audibly through the nose
(mostró arrogantemente su desprecio con un resoplido)
ordinary, of low social class (común, vulgar)
for support: for help (en busca de apoyo)
memsahib: a woman sahib (formerly a term of respect for important white Europeans in colonial India; used after the name) (dama)
no matter how hard you try
: no matter how much you try (por más que te esfuerces)
: foolish (imprudente, precipitado)
: turned white (empalideció)
: money that a woman's family gives to the man she marries (dote
if not for him: withouth his help (de no haber sido por él
to bother yourself: to worry about (molestarte
paying him back: giving recompensation in recognition of his actions (devolverle, recompensarlo
lie down: to have some rest (recostarte, descansar un poco
: keep (conservo)
peace of mind: absence of mental stress or anxiety (tranquilidad mental

ACTIVITY                                                                               ANSWERS

Choose the best alternative to these two questions about this short story:

1. Why Ashok did not turn down the marriage proposal of Gowri's father?

  Because he cannot marry Maddie despite of his love for her.
  Because he loved Gowri.
  Because his sister asked him not to.
  Because Andrew demanded him to accept it.

2. What is the relationship between Andrew and Maddie?

  Brother and sister.
  A couple.
  Father and daughter.
  Close friends.

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