Am often asked, why do I not want to go and live in India,and do I not feel the pull of the “motherland”?
The answer is a big NO. India to me is a country; I left some 47 years ago to seek anew life. And I have found it. I have spent more of my life in England, than in India,and this country has given me happiness,a better life and where I have found a new family and some very wonderful friends.
The British people are cautious and reserved. They will be polite and civil, but keep their own counsel. They do not judge you in a hurry,nor do they rush to judge you, or tell you what to do. You can make your own mistakes and learn from them,no one will stop you from making them.
I found in Asia,at least in my experience, people are very judgmental,and self righteous.
At least my family were. Simply because I was working and living alone,all kind of stories were made up. How could she live on her own and be decent?
That was the 1960’s India,things might have improved for the younger generation,but my generation suffered with women having too much time, and they spent it finding faults in others.
Once we were in Delhi, things went downhill, our standard of living went down,with no income coming in,we went without food regularly. the nanny for my sister had to go,and the bulk of child care fell on me. My sister was very used to a lot of attention from our parents.Being with her sister was not to her liking.She constantly whined and was desperately un happy,I was a mere child myself,and being the only one,was not used to caring/interacting with children.
My parents were constantly irritated, the pressures of debt, an uncertain future and having two daughters must be causing havoc with them. They in my opinion at the time were not capable of rational thought.
There were all kind of rumours about their social contacts,they company they kept and who and where my mother went out was also objected on.
And then came the biggest shock of my life. I was told to get “engaged” to a man ,much older than me. The family were known as the Arya family, and it was said that they “married” their sons to girls/women and then used them as high class escort girls.
I didn’t understand any of that. The father of the boy had some kind of disease,he was quite dark,but his mouth was all white and he had white patches on his hands too.He looked quite frightening.
In a ceremony, I was made to wear a pink Saree,and sat while they put a gold ring on my finger and some sweets in my mouth.
As I write this,am listening to the news item that the first case of the father who has been prosecuted for forcing his daughter into marriage.
So girls being expendable has not changed in the Eastern society,even in the 21st century. Only in the west now there are laws to protect them,and thank God for that.
I was barely 15, have always lived at home, not even exposed to school and outside influence.
I was overwhelmed,had no other choice. But the people living around that hotel and who have befriended me were horrified. Everyone expressed concern,secretly;but no solution.
There was one couple though, they were childless,and often asked me and my sister in to their flat and offered us food and friendship.
They painted a picture of a horrible future,assuring me that I will be used for prostitution, and there was no escape now that I was going to be married in that family.
But, they suggested, if I came away with them to Bombay, they will send me to school, and look after me like a daughter.
I was overwhelmed. On one side there were my parents, who have never showed any affection,always found me to be wanting,and compared my unfavourable to my sister,and here were this couple who wanted to make me a daughter and look after me.
I ran away with them.
I remember the sense of panic and fear,as we boarded the train out of Delhi. I cried all the way,I wanted my parents and my little sister on one hand, and then suddenly the fear will grip me of being peddled into being a call girl. And the indifference of my parents. I consoled myself with the thought that my parents will be happier to be rid of me. At least there will be one less mouth to feed.
Little did I know how my life was going to change.
To this day I do not know if that man really going to make me a call girl, what were my parents’s intentions and what was happening in our life.
My parents have never ever tried to explain anything to me ever.
To be continued.