Unsuitable Girl

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  1. On January 1st 2018, in Kenton, Harrow, the Unsuitable Girl, myself, (real life version), 51 years on, met some of the consequences of her choice to walk through that invisible but oh so solid screen, dividing races, back in mid-century UK. 

     Usha (Pratap’s  sister here on a visit from India)) told us that because of the whole ‘unsuitable girl’ thing happening with us,  (1966) she was not allowed to go to England to study medicine which was her dream then.  Cue… even more guilt!

    So, she had to study in India, when the family moved there from Uganda, and she wasn’t allowed to study medicine, as she wouldn’t be able to find a husband if she were too educated! 

    I said, ‘I feel guilty about stopping your studies in England,'

    She said, ‘Why? I’m happy! No need to feel guilty!’ 

    And Bijal  (her daughter) added,’Yes, and the reason Jeannie-mammi married Pratap-mamma was so that I could come to England!’

    We had helped to check out a suitable boy, Sachin,  for Bijal, who then lived with her in  her joint family home in Jamnagar, Gujarat. 

    Thinking back to that time, in the sixties, when we were focussed only on being together, all else faded. The consequences on other’s lives were marked. What compelled us? Was it selfish? Probably. Was it naive? Probably. But here we are, and the sky did not fall, the world kept turning. 

     

     

  2. I've written before somewhere on this site that learnng to let go is a key to living  one's life in a balanced way. 

    Long held, the dream of having a book published, a novel, now having been achieved, for better for worse, and the book is out and away to Amazon and Kindle to seek its fortune. The main thing I hope for is that it will perhaps bring some hours of enjoyment and expand the reader's knowledge a bit. I wrote the kind of book that I like to read, where I learn about other kinds of people and places, in other times, how different and the same these times were for the people inhabiting them.  We are all the product of these stories from the past, our own family stories, again for better for worse. 

    As Dame Hilary Mantel said in her first Reith lecture, 'Once we pass away, we become fiction.'   Each person who knew us will have his or her own version of us, who we were, how we were and why, which depended on other previous fictions. And so it goes. So perhaps I am tryng to lay down a version of myself, disguised within a novel. I have certainly used threads of the stories about Pratap's grandfather, leaving for Africa, from India, on the BSS Khandalla.

    These are the facts I know...the rest I have imagined, knowing he lost two young wives and didn't take another.  But I can be certain of nothing.  

    So letting go...has been enormously scary, as it exposes an inner self to outer gaze. But as Maya Angelou once said, "There is no greater angst than carrying a story that wants to be told..'

    This story wanted to be told, so it's off, and I hope it is read and enjoyed.

 


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