Satvinder: A Short Story
There was no place on earth that came close to Punjab, India, especially in the monsoon season. The sway of the fields and the green against the dark menacing clouds was just spectacular, breath-taking, and Satvinder and her friends were sitting next to the village pond and dreaming about Indian delicacy (Pakoras). It was a must that when it rains, it’s the duty of potatoes and onions to be joined in a batter and jump into hot oil as pakoras ! It was just one of the unwritten rules that all followed.
Her mother and father at home had another dilemma they were facing. Someone from the next village had come with a match for Satvinder. They wanted a winter wedding and all that was required was that she give an IELTS exam plus the 2.2 million for the boys’ travel visa to the agent. It was a good match, the boy belonged to a good family; they had a reasonable farm; and most importantly, he was the only son. They were connected, and the father was the Sarpanch ( village headman ).
He had all the charisma and outreach in the neighboring villages, and their honor, prestige, and respect would be doubled in front of the community. It all was that mattered to him. Daughters were expendable and were just meant to be guarded till they reached the marriageable age, and by God’s grace, she was gori Chitti (fair skinned) and wasn’t wheatish like her mother. He had been wronged when he had been married.
Satvinder came home without a care and ran in, asking for a cup of tea from the maid, Rano. Rano was her confidante, her helper, her true friend who would always help her to get out of scrapes. She did not know what she would do without her. Rano called her inside and told her that a match had come for her and they were considering the pros and cons. She asked in jest, “Is he good looking?” Is he handsome? Where, what, and how did everything happen?
Rano told her all about him and what he wished for her to do. She didn’t mention the money bit. That was Biji’s (Mother’s) place to tell you.
Giving an English exam wasn’t tough; it was just an exam. She could study, take classes, and qualify. Living abroad in Canada was the stuff of dreams. She would be away from all the oppression and the strict attitude of her father. She would have freedom and she could wear and do exactly what she wanted.
It all started with a small ceremony. They gave her a beautiful gold bangle and she loved it . Everything was just as she had wanted, and studying, giving her exam, and talking to Satnam made life perfect.
Satvinder was constantly coached by her mother over the little nuances of life and how she should conduct herself. It was nagging sometimes. She shopped, and days flew by, and everything fell into place. The whirlwind romance, the holding of hands, giving the exam and getting the requisite band that was needed by her She knew that she looked beautiful on the day of the wedding; her lehenga (bridal dress) and jewelry made her look like a princess !
And then, it was like a dream that all had fallen into place, and she looked at her jeans and herself sitting on the airplane. Her choora (wedding bangle) and mehendi were dark (she was a favorite of her mother-in-law). Satvinder started to sniff and cry, thinking about her family, parents, and everyone she had left behind, but she knew it would be the start of a new beginning. She looked forward to it. Satnam was loving, and he was also caring in his ways. Sometimes, he held her very hard when he kissed her, and the entire act of lovemaking was just too hard. She had no one to ask, and googling said it gets easier.
A long flight and he was there to receive her. Everything was forgotten after she saw his familiar face in the sea of people and the buzz. Thank God, her English was good and her ear for accents was very good. Her head was spinning. The time difference, the new place, the smells, it all seemed alien. This wasn’t the image in her mind. But anyhow, she knew all would be fine.
Going home with Satnam, collecting luggage and reaching a tall building confused her. They were supposed to go to a home; those were the pictures she had seen. When she asked him, he just said, “This is a new flat I’ve bought. I wish to take you there.” You’re my darling wife.
Anticipating the best, she knew her fears were unfounded. He took her up to the flat, and she also lugged in her extra bags. Walking into the flat, which was new and brand new, she looked around. He took her to the bed, which had been decorated with flowers on the side. The gesture won her over, and he felt the weariness seep away.
Would you want to eat something ? Do you want a cup of tea? He asked.
Nothing, just that I need a bath and I will just come back . I need to get the smell off of me, “she said.
She came close to him after coming back after washing her hair and wearing the new night suit. He hugged her and took her in his arms , and the frenzy of tugging and kissing started. She wanted him to go slow, but he was a man possessed. The roughness and the pinching and the brutality made her ache, and she was sore. He had even hit her on the back, and that had triggered his release. This didn’t seem right.
He rolled over and told her he’d be back in the morning. She was tuned. What do you mean?
I am married to someone here. Her name is Janet. I just had to go with what my father wanted, as he was threatening to disown me if I didn’t marry a Punjabi girl. So, I just put some conditions and your father fell for all of them. He gave the money and I used it, and you can live here for a month. The rent is paid, and there is food in the fridge .
She was shocked, trying to register what had all been said. She was in Canada, discharged off by her father, as she fit the bill, used by her husband to settle the score with his father, and she had just sort of been raped. What a life. Whom would she call or what would she say ?
She said, “Satnam, what did I do wrong?” I will be a good wife. Don’t do this to me. My father will die when he hears of this. Please, please listen to me as he walked away .
It was an act. I don’t care about you. Look at yourself; you’re no style, uncouth, simple woman who can’t ever match me. You’re here in Canada. That’s what you wanted. Now live your life.
He walked away.
Shattered and shell-shocked, she sat down and dialed her father.
Hello, Papaji (Father).
Haanji (Yes), I’ve reached, haanji I am fine.
Oh, I am so glad. Is Satnam there? He must be taking so much care of what a huge bungalow he has. You are so lucky. You are the envy of the entire khandaan (extended family), and your uncle says in a few years your brother can also come there after you get your citizenship. I am so proud of you. You’re my putt (pride).
Hearing him say this, silent tears fell on her cheeks and she listened to him talking non-stop and his happiness knew no bounds. She was in Canada and all that mattered was that she could get them here.
Every Punjabi’s dream … another girl lost herself.
About the Author:
Ravneet Sangha is a read-aholic mom on the move who believes in the higher presence that just balances everything. She runs an online clothing store and also a school for underprivileged kids in her village ! She recently got the ladies working for a new company where they sell pickles and it’s called The Acharwallah Co.