Authors Note. The age of consent in England is 16 for both boys and girls, although marriage can only be with the parents consent until they are eighteen years of age.
Yes it really was a dark and stormy Friday night, and I was driving home to my lonely apartment glad to have a free weekend ahead of me after a grueling week at the Bank. My mother was away on a world tour with her sister, and I was home alone, and looking after myself. I knew that the house would be warm and I the thought of a quiet evening in front of the TV after a nice hot meal was wonderful.
My so called girl friend Tracy of two years was also away with her parents for a month in Ibiza. It was a long term platonic relationship that I sensed was going nowhere. We dated regularly, I would take her home, I would kiss her goodnight and then I would go home. It was only on a few casual dates with other women where I managed to get a more amorous partner. I knew that Tracy also dated other men but that did not bother me.
On Saturday I was planning to go to the local football match and having a few pints afterwards in the pub with my mates. I was nearly home, and the rain showed no sign of easing, but I decided as usual to stop at the local newsagent and get an evening newspaper. I made a quick dash from the car without locking it, and into the newsagents. As usual Mr. Ranjit Singh was serving customers but tonight he was looking less than his usual charming self.
I just could not resist asking. "What is the matter Mr. Singh you don't look happy"?
"Oh deary me Mr. Nash, it's my daughter Reeta. She is a big problem, her mother and I have found her a nice young man back in the Punjab, for her to marry and he comes from a good family, and he has some money and a nice house but she refuses to have anything to do with him. I just don't know what we are going to do with her. She is so headstrong and strong willed like her mamma"
"Let her find her own husband then. She is a lovely girl and she is a very sensible girl"
I said not being very sympathetic at all to arranged marriages. At the same time I could imagine the stormy scene in his household, when Reeta had turned the proposal down. His daughter Reeta was a cracker by any meaning of the word, with a strong will of her own. She had inherited the best physical features of both parents and from somewhere she had found a very strong vivacious personality. She was about 5'7" tall; slim with a lovely brown Indian complexion and with lovely dark expressive flashing eyes. I had dated her a couple of times, and I had thoroughly enjoyed her company. In fact I had always thought Reeta would be just the girl for me, but I knew that the Indian community tended to keep marriages within their own religion or sect and so I stood no chance.
"But she is only fifteen isn't she? I asked Mr. Singh.
"She was sixteen last week and that is almost too old for a good Seikh girl to marry."
"Well she is old enough to marry by English Law and you are now living in England Mr. Singh."
"That is true Mr. Nash, but we are still Indian Seikh's and we must live by our traditional customs."
"Oh well Mr. Singh perhaps Reeta is more western than Seikh now. I wish you luck, but many young people from India are now adopting European habits where marriage and courtship are concerned."
As I spoke I took my evening paper and wished the troubled Mr. Singh goodnight."
I dashed to my car and jumped in quickly to get away from the rain. Within seconds I was moving again. I lived only about 150 yards from the newsagents so I was quickly home. Suddenly something caught my attention and looking in the rear view mirror I saw a very damp Reeta Singh sitting in the back seat.
"Can I come in with you and have a chat Tony please? Reeta asked.
"Reeta this is not on, what will your parents say?"
"If you won't listen to me Tony I will run away from home. I heard you talking to Papa in the shop and you seemed to be sympathising with me. Oh please help me."
Realising that she was not far from home and liking Reeta a lot I thought there can be no harm in listening to her. So I said. "Come on in then"
Inside my home Reeta took off her coat and I fetched her a towel to dry her hair. Looking at her I realised just how beautiful she really was. It was hard for a stranger to know her real age, because she looked so young. When we had dated I had been the perfect gentleman, and we had enjoyed ourselves and I had always seen her home safely afterwards, knowing that she was only fifteen.
I made some Tea and Reeta sat in an armchair and watched me, not speaking, although I sensed she was very upset. When I had made the tea and had given her a cup. Reeta suddenly stood up and pulled a photograph from her pocket which she passed to me. It was a photo of a Seikh man.
While I was looking at the photo Reeta stood over me with one hand on each arm of the chair as we looked at the photo together. In the photo the man looked to be about 50 years old but quite neat and tidy.
"What is wrong with him?" I asked.
"He is a carpenter back in the Punjab, he is old and I have never met him. I want to choose my own husband, like you do here in England. I want a man I know who I can love and who I know can love me"
"Must he be a Seikh?" I asked.
"Yes preferably, but he could be English and eventually my parents would probably come to accept him. I do have someone I can love in mind here in England"
"Do I know him?" I asked.
"Yes Tony - you know him well. Its you."
"How can I marry you Reeta?"
"I know you have a sort of girl friend." Reeta said.
"Yes that is true, but we will never marry."
"So you are free to marry me then Tony?"
The suggestion took me a bit by surprise and the trouble is that sometimes I am a bit slow on the uptake. Suddenly I found that she was on my lap and in my arms, and kissing me passionately on the lips. Suddenly she broke the kiss.
"Now Tony do you see how I can make you a good wife, and I know that you like me and will soon get to love me?" She asked quietly.
"You really mean me?"
.... There is more of this story ...