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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
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
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
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
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
up the driveway.
Pursing his lips, Jawar followed him quietly into
When Andrew realised that the man had come with a marriage
proposal, he was
Remesh Chandulal was an important businessman. With his thick,
black hair streaked with grey, and his expensive suit, he cut an
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"But you don't say whether you love her, Ashok," she
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
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
"Ashok ... I ..." she stopped, tears running down her
face. He loved her but he would never admit it now because of her
"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
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.
looked like: seemed
mythical warriors: someone fabulous
engaged in warfare
(delgado) outrageously: in
a very offensive manner
(descaradamente) deterred: showing discouragement
desanimada) wealthy: rich
adinerada) an only child: the only daughter
to obtain, to win, to have (conseguir, asegurarse) ultimate
goal in life:
her main objective
in life (su
principal objetivo en la vida) aims:
goals, objectives (objetivos) to
to improve (mejorar,
realzar) might have
could have been (habría
podido ser) spoilt: greedy,
wanting and expecting everything
into wrinkles or folds(frunciendo
person who receives support and protection from an influential
patron(protegido) tosniff: to inhale audibly through the nose
arrogantemente su desprecio con un resoplido)
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)
(imprudente, precipitado) blanched:
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
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)
retain: keep (conservo) peace of mind:
of mental stress or anxiety (tranquilidad
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?
cannot marry Maddie despite of his love for her.
his sister asked him not to.
Andrew demanded him to accept it.
2. What is
the relationship between Andrew and Maddie?
and daughter. Close
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