Sathi's Story

Freedom from an arranged marriage

By Stephen Andrews

Photo:Workshop at St Richards

Workshop at St Richards

Portslade WRVS

Photo:Sathi in red

Sathi in red

Portslade WRVS

Photo:Group in Discussion_Sathi in sari

Group in Discussion_Sathi in sari

Portslade WRVS


'I used to enjoy going to the cinema, we didn't have TV in Sri Lanka at that time. We'd see English and American films and I remember the film stars like Elizabeth Taylor. We lived in Colombo and there were quite a few cinemas and each with their individual name. We weren't allowed to go out dancing. We used to go in a group to the cinema. We knew our boundaries.'


'We didn't wear saris as children - we'd wear our school uniforms or 'frocks' and sometimes my mother made clothes for us. Maybe some of the clothes that she bought for us were imported. I started wearing saris to go out, when I was about 18 or 19 years old, and then I  wore them most of the time once I got married. You can buy cheap clothes now, they're not made to last. I liked the fashions back then. There were lovely dresses that were made of 'glazed cotton', and clothes made of 'seersucker' material.'

Royal visit

'I remember seeing the queen in 1954 in Ceylon. She was on a Commonwealth tour. Clothes were so expensive but we all dressed up. The queen was like a god. My mum made two dresses for me, just in case one went wrong.'

Journey to the UK

Sathi had an arranged marriage, said that her husband had met other women but wanted an "independent woman".  She added that that may have been what he wanted but he "couldn't handle it, he did as his parents told him then, and still does now!"

'Civil war started in Sri Lanka and all the properties were burned. My brother was in the Navy but after the property was burned, he went to Australia with the family. There was always trouble in Sri Lanka. I had an arranged marriage with my husband. My husband lived in England for 10 years, and before that my dad was working in Edinburgh, so I thought he (my husband) will be more educated, not like the others. I was really, really, disappointed. I stayed married for 16 years. It was so difficult because he was stuck in that behaviour. In Sri Lanka at that time, the British wanted clerical workers so they opened missionary schools, offices etc, and the Tamils wanted to work as that, not in the fields as labourers as before.'

'My husband worked in the day time and at night school in the UK, sending home money to his family. He had no time for me. It was very sad. I went back to Sri Lanka and back to his house, he asked me to walk behind his sister, I said no, and went to my family's house.'

Coming to England

'I came down here to Portslade because my daughter was working here three years ago. I came for a holiday. Then I came properly two months ago. I came from Sri Lanka 35 years ago. I went to Northamptonshire. It has the largest market in the UK. Built in 1129. I came in 1973, so I spent 34 years in Northamptonshire.'

This page was added by Stephen Andrews on 06/12/2007.
Comments about this page

Very interesting

By vicky waters
On 06/12/2007

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