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Marriage Material

by Sathnam Sanghera

I really enjoyed this funny poignant story about rival families of Sikh shopkeepers in Wolverhampton, a clever reworking of an English classic The Old Wives' Tale. Each character adapts to the immigrant experience in a unique way leading to comic situations, but the conflicts of culture and family life bring sadness too. Knowing the novel it echoes only enhanced my enjoyment by pointing up that however different we may seem we are all human.

Extract

We ended up talking half the night, telling our favourite stories about Dad, Mum recalling among other things the time he took an air rifle to the backyard and shot a pigeon with the intention of flogging pigeon meat in the shop. I can't imagine there would have been much demand for game in inner-city Wolverhampton, but the smell of the resulting flesh in the shed was such that my vegetarian mother wouldn't let him back in the house until he had got rid of it. In return I remembered how he would always buy a family pack of popcorn when we went to the cinema, find three smaller cartons and then stand in the corridor dividing it all. At the time I found it mortifying, lived in fear of being seen by a schoolmate, but telling the story, I found it touching, and not for the first time that week, fell to sleep on a damp pillow.

Parallels

Anita and Me by Meera Syal
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
  • Rudy's Rare Records - BBC Radio series
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