Ravinder Randhawa was born in India, but grew up in Warwickshire in the UK. She is an accomplished writer, amongst her published works are 'A Wicked Old Woman, 'Hari-Jan,' and 'The Coral Strand.' She has also published widely in magazines, anthologies and written many short stories. Ravi is currently working on her new novel the 'Snakecharmer's Daughter.' In the 1984 she founded the Asian Women Writers Collective. Ravi won the Kathleen Burnett Award in 1990 and was shortlisted for the David Wong award in 2001.
London, January 1997. Early morning
'Afraid? No fear. Not me!' chanting her early morning litany into the tiny mirror that only has space for a fragment of her face – Sita/Ferret's daily dose of Dutch courage! Sita the Ferret had kept and taken into herself these names that Emily and Champa had given her: Sita from Champa, Ferret from Emily. She had joined them up, and would murmur them to herself. Sita/Ferret. Syllables of the self. Taking the bottle of Old Spice from the shelf, she removes the top and dabs drops onto her clothes, wrists, the base of her neck; breathing in deeply, inhaling the pungent, spicy scents!
The history of a scent! More than twenty years earlier, Emily had caught the child Sita/Ferret at her dressing table trying to open a silver perfume bottle. The young girl had flinched and immediately moved away waiting for Emily's hand to rise and crack across her face. Instead, Emily had done something unusual: she opened the carved doors of an almirah and searched inside. The child had stood still, waiting. She wouldn't move till she was given permission, their last fight still vivid inside her when she'd shouted back at Emily and tried to run out of the kitchen. Emily, furious with rage had caught her by the arm: 'Gutter ki batchi, vermin of the sewers, thinks she can talk back to a memsahib!' 'Mutant Memsahib!' Sita/Ferret had retorted recklessly. 'Disobedient worm!' Emily had said, spitting the words. 'A servant is not her master's equal. I was too lax with her. 'Who her? 'Even bringing her here. Great Britain itself! You,' finger pointing like a knife at Sita/Ferret's heart, 'you're living off me and I won't have you getting uppity.......'