2020 Conversations with Colleen ~ Featuring Author, Ritu Bhathal @RituBhathal
I’m thrilled to be part of an amazing writing community that helps to support other authors. Today, please welcome poet and author, Ritu Bhathal to discuss her new book, “Marriage Unarranged,” available for purchase at the link below.
I’ve had the opportunity to read this book and you can read my 5 STAR review below.
Aashi’s parents caught my heart in this novel. They were kind and gentle, and always looking out for their family. Something tells me, there are going to be big changes for this family still to come. If anyone can cope, I know it will be Mohinder and Harjit. I asked Ritu to share some thoughts on Aashi’s view of Mohinder and Harjit, her parents in the book.
Thank you so much Colleen, for inviting me onto your blog, to talk a little bit about my new novel, Marriage Unarranged that released on Sunday 9th February.
You’re so welcome. I loved all the cultural aspects of “Marriage Unarranged,” Ritu. Tell me more!
A lot of people are aware of just how long this book has taken to come up for air (twenty years!) and it really is my book baby. Definitely time for it to take wings and fly!
Today, my main character, Aashi, wants to talk to you a little bit about her parents, Mohinder and Harjit, who she calls Daddy-ji and Mummy-ji.
Hello again! I hope you’ve been enjoying getting to know some of my friends and family over the last few days.
My introductions wouldn’t be complete though without telling you a little bit about my parents, Mummy-ji and Daddy-ji.
I love my parents very much. They’ve given me everything a girl could ask for.
My daddy-ji, Mohinder, is the gentlest soul you could imagine. He treats me like a princess. But that doesn’t mean he spoils me. Put it this way, if you could bank love, I think I’d be a millionaire.
Mummy-ji often says he lets me get away with everything, but that’s not true. Daddy-ji just has a way of explaining things to me, so I know what is expected of me as the daughter in this family. And I could never hurt him. Sometimes I think there is something magical about my daddy-ji. It’s like when he puts his hand on my head, or he hugs me, nothing can harm me, ever.
Harjit, my mummy-ji, is your typical Indian mum. She’s a regular worshipper at the Gurdwara, and always worried about what others will say.
She loves me lots too, like Daddy-ji, but just has a different way of showing it. She feels like she’s done her job of preparing me for married life, by teaching me how to cook and keep a tidy house (though she doesn’t realise that Ravi hates eating Indian food all the time).
She’s had plenty of opinions to share while we’ve been planning the wedding. And she is rather excited at the prospect of going to India in a few weeks, to go shopping for my bridal outfit and a whole new Indian wardrobe for me called a daaj. It’s what your parents send you off with you when you get married.
It’s quite handy, having a father who’s business is selling Indian clothes. He has a shop here, on Soho Road. It’s a bit like mini India there. Anyway, he’s got plenty of contacts over in India, so we can get some good discounts while we are out there.
Sunny, my big brother, is going with us too. He loves working in the family business, and I think, secretly, Mummy-ji is glad. She loves to go back home to visit the family, but feels a little daunted by the shopping side and traveling without Daddy-ji. Having Sunny there will reassure her. She doesn’t think women should travel alone to India, even though it’s where she came from!
I’m dreading leaving my parent’s home. But I know I have to once I get married. We’ll live in our own house, but Ravi’s parents are just around the corner. They’re nice people, but not, you know, my Mummy-ji and Daddy-ji.
Here is an extract from the book where we meet Mohinder and Harjit:
Aashi pushed open the door to the sitting room. There sat her mum and dad, happily watching some family drama on their favourite Indian channel.
A small, sandalwood incense stick smouldered in a holder on the tiled fireplace, where below, instead of a cosy fire, was a three-bar electric heater, which was never switched on because Mummy-ji said it was too expensive. Above it, a framed picture of Guru Nanak Dev-Ji, the first of the Sikh gurus.
Little did they know their daughter’s life was just as complicated as the story unfolding on their screen.
Aashi’s eyes rested on her father, Mohinder. He sat there, on his favourite armchair, strategically positioned, so he got the best view of the television, engrossed in the programme. His black turban was taken off and put to the side on the small table beside him. One hand scratched his head, and the top knot, covered in a little, square hankie, was much reduced in size, compared to the tennis ball-sized bobble he used to have. Most men worried about their receding hairlines, Daddy-ji about his reducing top knot size. His other hand firmly gripped the Sky remote control, just in case one of the boys came in and tried to change the channel. Slightly tubby with a cuddly belly, he was a father no one feared. Aashi and her brothers respected him. All they were afraid of was disappointing him.
Aashi knew she’d always been the apple of her daddy-ji’s eye. If he’d had his way, Aashi and Ravi would have moved in with them, so reluctant was he to have his darling daughter move out. On the flip side, he was happy because she seemed excited. Aashi was torn. He’d put all his faith in her and Ravi, and she was going to have to let him down.
There sat her mother, Harjit, on the three-seater sofa, with her cup of Indian masala tea in her hand, heavy on Mummy-ji’s favourite spice, cardamom, and a bowl with chevda, Bombay mix, on the well-worn coffee table in front of her. She was an attractive woman with the smooth skin of a teenager. That was the result of years of no makeup, soap and water, and good old Oil of Olay. The rounded figure was because of the three children she had borne and brought up. Her hair parted in the centre and pulled into a loose bun at the back of her head.
Mummy-ji always worried about Aashi being naïve, and her being taken advantage of, though after meeting Ravi, Aashi felt her mother’s concerns died down a little. She knew her mum was very excited about the wedding and all the plans. Deep breath. Can I do this?
At that moment, Aashi’s mum lifted her head. “Aashi, beti, where were you? You took so long! I thought you would be back sooner. I even called Ravi, there was no one answering the phone. Did you both go out somewhere?” Not waiting for an answer, she continued, “So, did you decide where your holiday was going to be?”
Find the unexpected answer to Mummy-ji’s question in “Marriage Unarranged.”
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham, UK, in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origins. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.
From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother.
The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry.
Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.
A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which recently was awarded second place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
Ritu is happily married, and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh.Ritu Bhathal Amazon Author Page
How to Connect with the Author
Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon