Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nadine, Chapter one

Chapter 1: Nadine

When I first met Nadine, she was my neighbor from across the road in Kingsland; we were both living in rental properties along Third Avenue. It was quite a slum area, with students and Maoris and Polynesians living in the run down bungalows. I was newly married and working full time. Nadine had never worked and was pregnant with her first child. Nadine was a New Zealand-born Indian, but she did not want to use her Indian name and wanted to be known as Nadine only. She liked to come for cup of tea or coffee when I was home and we talked about the pending birth of her baby.

This is Nadine’s story.

Nadine’s father, Patel was born and bred in Pukekohe. He was a market gardener. His family was among the early Indian immigrants who came before 1900s. When Patel saved up enough money, he sent for his bride from Gujarat, a state in North West India. Traditionally, an Indian bride gave her husband a dowry, but in this case, none was given because not many Indian girls wanted to come to New Zealand and Patel was happy to get a bride.

Nadine’s mother came with other girls like her, to marry men they had never met. Upon arrival at Pukekohe, Nadine’s mother, Chandra, proved to be a sour puss. She hated the market garden; she hated the cold winter. She said the Pakehas and the Maoris discriminated against her. She moaned and groaned that there were no ingredients to cook her traditional Indian food. She was extremely homesick and believed she left one set of shackles of poverty in Gujerat for another set, of isolation in New Zealand. She was not getting pregnant, and she yearned for the day she’d have a baby boy so her husband would start to mollycoddle her instead of staying in the bloody garden the whole day. She did her puja or worship everyday to her Gods Lord Ganesh and Lord Krishna, but it was still not happening. She thought, perhaps she missed the auspicious time when she first arrived in New Zealand. Her mother told her that she must meet her husband at that precise time the soothsayer had calculated, but the bloody Singapore Airlines was delayed and she missed her important time by three hours. Chandra was convinced that the Gods were unhappy with her because she did not do puja with a tulsi plant as every Indian lady did in India and even those living overseas in Singapore where the tulsi plant thrived. But in New Zealand, the weather was too cold for the tulsi. However, Manchala who came from the same village on the same flight as her had no problem conceiving three boys.

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