I looked at my father with dumb disbelief.
‘Well, my son, have you nothing to say about this?’
‘Father, I do not want to sound ungrateful, but I am only 18 years of age. Am I not too young for marriage?’
He laughed, deep in his chest. ‘You will be 19 before your wedding day. Do I detect a certain reluctance?’
I looked at the floor.
‘My son, I had never cast eyes on your mother before our betrothal. We have had twenty-seven wonderful years. You have a handsome brother and a beautiful sister, who are very happy with their partners. The girl we chose will make you just as happy and it will do you no harm to be part of her family.’
‘Father tell me, who is this family? I presume it will also be beneficial for our own family.’
My father glared momentarily, then laughed again. ‘That the Sharfi family is very influential is a bonus, but my only thought was to ensure you have a good and beautiful wife and, therefore a long, happy marriage.’
‘Thank you Father. When can I see this paragon of beauty and goodness?’
‘Be patient. I will arrange the day of your betrothal very soon.’
The day was hot as my family arrived in four cars that were burnished and decorated for the occasion. As we walked formally into the opulent Sharfi mansion I felt stiff and awkward in my formal clothing.
The Sharfi family lined up on one side of the enormous ceremony room and I stood at the front of my relatives.
A large double door was opened, and my heart sank to the floor as a squat, fat girl with a large nose stepped forward.
She turned to Mr Sharfi. ‘Are we ready, Sir?’
He nodded. She indicated through the door and the vision that was Amithi stepped through.
Maybe I should have picked her up and swept her away, but I did not.
Two months later our fathers fell out over a bad business deal which bankrupted mine and Amithi was whisked away from me forever.