“Why doesn’t Grant pay more support for his son, why don’t you live up in the family house with stainless steel appliances and big screen televisions, why did you marry the jerk?” So much for finesse, but there it was, the elephant in the room could no longer be ignored.
Raminder looked at him, arms folded across her chest. Her silence reminded Matt of a lull during an artillery barrage. You knew it wasn’t over. The enemy gunners were just adjusting their coordinates. The next incoming could be farther away from your position or maybe not. It was the waiting that unnerved you.
“I don’t owe you and explanation,” she said.
“Rami, I’m sorry, I–“
“You left, cut me off. You didn’t know what was going on back in Pitt Landing. You made it clear you didn’t want to know.”
“That’s not the case.” How could he explain? “I was coping with stuff–“
“Well, you weren’t the only one.” Raminder walked over and pulled open the back door. The long rays of the evening sun shone in the kitchen windows and breeze off the river was refreshing.
Matt kept his mouth shut. Not hard, because he had nothing to say, and he felt anything he did say would only make things worse.
“My father was partially paralyzed from his stroke, the family needed money. He arranged for me to be married.”
“To someone from India?”
“Of course, someone from India,” Raminder said. “For someone in India marrying a Canadian citizen means getting into the country, means eventually getting your entire family into Canada.”
“But how would that help?”
“Canadian citizenship is worth a lot of money.”
“Your father was going to sell you?”
“Don’t look so shocked, Matthew. It’s a common practice. Most Indian women, even those born in Canada don’t have much say over who they marry.” Raminder came back to the table and sat down. “You must have seen worse in the places you’ve been.”
Indeed, he had, a lot worse. He’d seen women used as slaves, starved, raped, mutilated, and murdered. In most places he’d been they had less value than cattle. Still, it was unthinkable someone would treat his Raminder that way, especially her father.
“So you got pregnant?” Matt said. It made sense in a tragic way. She would be ruined for an Indian man. She'd be considered a whore, marrying her would bring him disgrace.
Raminder’s eyes flashed. “You’re so sanctimonious.” She put her hands flat on the table like she didn’t trust them, like they might do something she couldn’t control, like smash him in the face. “While you were away trying to save the world for strangers, the world you ran a way from and the people who loved you were coming apart.”
“That’s not fair. I didn’t run away, I–“
“But you’re wrong. I didn’t get pregnant, I got married.”
“Yes, to Grant.”
“You married him so you wouldn’t have to have an arranged marriage.” Matt felt relieved. He knew she couldn’t love that jerk.
Raminder tilted her head. “Maybe. But at the time it didn’t seem like that was the reason.”
“What was the reason then?”
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