Indian Summers: The Fair

maxresdefaultPreviously on Indian Summers: Aafrin took a bullet for Ralph, but before anyone could find out what the deal is with the shooter, he killed himself. Ralph started using the whole incident as a PR stunt, and also began schtupping Madeline. Aafrin’s sister started joining the growing independence movement, and Ian’s uncle turned out to be an indebted alcoholic.

Aafrin’s back at work, and summoned to a meeting with Ralph, who asks if he’s ever considered moving upwards in the civil service. Aafrin has, and he started studying for the exams but had to stop because of financial restraints. Something tells me that won’t be an issue now. Outside Ralph’s office, the male secretary packs up his stuff, while inside Ralph is offering the position of head clerk to Aafrin. Also, the costs associated with the civil service exam will be taken care of.

Sooni, out in the marketplace, hears a crowd and goes to check it out. A woman up on a dais is giving a speech that’s essentially ‘Freedom, yeah!’

Ian strolls down the main street. His uncle’s neighbor, Sood, approaches and politely reminds him that his uncle’s payment of his debt is now two weeks overdue. Ian tries to put him off by telling him to talk to his uncle, who can be found at the club, but Sood reminds him that he can’t enter the club, being apparently subhuman and all. A native policeman comes over and hustles Sood along, because Indians can’t be on the mall before sundown. Get it, everyone? RACISM!

Ian’s uncle snoozes at the club while Cynthia and Kaiser prepare for the upcoming Simli Fair. She gives her orders and then goes over to a little playgroup that Alice is enjoying with two other mums. Alice tries to excuse herself but Cynthia asks how she’s doing, since there’s going to be an inquest into the shooting and Alice will have to give a witness statement. Alice doesn’t see why that’s such a big deal but Cynthia says that it was such a terrible incident, and in Alice’s place, she wouldn’t remember a thing. Got that, Alice? Alice’s face takes on a look of smooth, frigid bitchery and she asks Cynthia what it was she wanted, wandering over here? Cynthia’s face says, ‘oh, I see what I’m dealing with.’

Aafrin tells his overjoyed parents about his promotion. Sooni’s still not back. They’re so proud of him. As he leaves, his dad says this is the British sense of fair play in action. No, this is the British sense of paying someone off for services rendered in action.

Sooni’s still listening to the speaker. She’s joined by her sister and tells the girl she should be at school. The girl stays put.

Ralph emerges from his office and finds Keane waiting for him. Keane says that Superintendent Rowntree is waiting to speak with Ralph about the crowd in the market that morning. Which, as we saw, is still going on. This is a reeeeally long speech. Rowntree proposes violently breaking up the gathering to really deter any followers. Ralph agrees and signs on behalf of the viceroy.

Alice goes to visit Doug’s school, where Leena’s complaining about not having enough cups or something. She stops babbling and turns to look at Doug, who’s just standing behind her, staring. He slowly approaches and they start to make out. She doesn’t seem all that bothered by God watching now. Alice arrives, accidentally interrupting, and Doug hastily introduces Leena, who rather rudely won’t speak to Alice, even when directly spoken to. Doug explains that Alice is there to volunteer. He leaves her in Leena’s hands and pops out.

The gathering in the marketplace is, as promised, broken up with much police brutality. Sooni’s sister urges her to leave just before things get rough, but Sooni doesn’t listen and winds up getting arrested with everyone else. Her sister, for some reason, is not bothered and Sooni shouts for her to go home.

Aafrin gets a riding lesson while his buddies from the office watch and make fun of him. Ralph arrives, smiling in a very self-satisfied manner, and goes over to speak to Aafrin and invite him to his house for drinks the next day. Aafrin accepts.

Alice checks out the books at the school (specifically, A Secret Garden, which is kind of funny since its about a child escaping India) and asks if these are all they have. Leena rather bitchily tells her to take any complaints to Doug, but Alice was only thinking the kids might appreciate something that isn’t about some overprivileged white girl. Finally feeling overwhelmed by Leena’s crappy attitude, Alice excuses herself. Leena seems to feel badly and offers to walk part of the way back with Alice.

Doug returns home and the second she sees him, his wife asks what his problem is, because he looks odd. He confesses that he’s been behaving ‘unchristian’ lately. She starts rather hysterically talking about how she thought he might have gotten some bad news from home, and then bursts into tears. He just stands there awkwardly for a while, then puts a hand on her shoulder and promises there’ll be no more problems.

Aafrin and Sita meet in the graveyard and he tells her about his promotion. He jokes around a bit and then says this is an amazing opportunity. She asks what this means for them and he says it means all good things, because he’ll be a covenanted civilian, and they can do whatever they want.

Alice asks where the kids came from and hears they’re abandoned mixed-blood children. They hear Sita and Aafrin in the graveyard and Leena shows them to Alice, telling her that she sees them waiting there all the time. Leena explains that they hide here because they can’t be together.

Back at Ralph’s, he’s in bed with Madeline, who’s quite enthusiastic. So enthusiastic that her brother leaves to go to the club. Can’t blame you there, Eugene.

Aafrin returns home to parents and a younger sister who are a trio of long faces. His mother talks about how bad news always follows good and her husband talks about how selfish Sooni is. Aafrin asks where she is.

In jail. She calls for someone and another woman in the cell tells her that nobody is going to come and let her use the facilities, she’ll have to go in the corner. Mind, there’s not a bucket or a chamber pot in the corner or anything, she just has to pee on the floor. Nice. She does, because desperate times and all. She then sits down (not in a corner) and looks scared. She says she doesn’t know what happened to her sister. The woman who was giving the speech, who’s just next door, says she’ll be fine, because younger sisters always manage to wriggle away, it’s the older ones who get the blame.

The next day, Aafrin gets ready to leave. His sister asks if he’ll ask Ralph for help with Sooni, because it’s not right that their sister got arrested just for listening to someone talk. She urges him to ask Ralph for help, because if Ralph’s a good man, he’ll do it.

Aafrin goes to Ralph’s gorgeous house, looking around in awe at the opulence of it. Ralph gives him a requested club soda. Aafrin drinks and then apologetically asks for Ralph’s help in the Sooni situation, lying that she just happened to be walking by and wasn’t actually listening to the speech. Ralph promises to see what he can do. In comes Alice, who is introduced to Aafrin, who says it’s nice to meet her under better circumstances. They go to sit on the back porch and she asks how he’s doing. Much recovered. She apologises for bursting in and her brother says they’re just celebrating Aafrin’s new job. Alice gets a look on her face that suggests she knows exactly why he got that promotion. Ralph brings up the inquest but says it’s nothing for anyone to worry about. In fact, all he remembers is the shooter shouting ‘you British devil.’ Alice is astonished and both she and Aafrin clearly remember the guy shouting something else, but Aafrin agrees that he remembers what Ralph does.

Ralph sets Aafrin to doing a caricature of Madeline. Alice excuses herself and goes downstairs to wait for Ralph and yell at him for trying to get her and Aafrin to lie for him. Aafrin and Madeline can hear them bickering but Madeline dismisses it. Downstairs, Alice tells Ralph she won’t perjure herself for him.

Cynthia condescendingly welcomes everyone to the fair, which is the one day a year the Indians are allowed at the club.

Meanwhile, Sooni remains in jail. She’s called to her feet by a guard, who takes her out to see Aafrin, who’s come to visit. He goes to embrace her, but the guard prevents it. He tells her he’s spoken to Ralph about getting her out and that he’s gotten a promotion at work. She’s not happy to hear any of that, so he scolds her for being ashamed of him when she’s the one in jail for associating with violent criminals. She says they’re not violent at all, and eh goes to show her his bullet wound as proof otherwise. She tells him the shooter wasn’t a Congress member, that there’s no record of his membership. He accuses her of being naïve and she accuses him of the same thing right back, telling him he’s being used for British propaganda. She’s tossed back in her cell.

Alice finds him lurking outside the fair and slowly approaches, thanking him for saving her brother and reassuring him jokingly that they won’t ask him to do it again. They walk into the fair and he admits he heard her fighting with her brother. She apologises for that but he says there’s no need. He knows how siblings fight. They stop by the table of a woman making bamboo grasshoppers and Aafrin buys two, giving one to Alice as a thank you for helping him when he was hurt. He tells her to enjoy the fair.

Cynthia and Ralph wander through, he complaining of a slight headache. She reassures him that everything will be over soon, and by the way, Alice was a bit bitchy when Cynthia spoke to her the other day. Ralph excuses himself to go looking for his sister, but he’s joined by Madeline and Keane just as he spots her helping out at the raffle table for Doug’s school. Keane calls the kids little savages and keeps spouting racist nonsense because RACISM. Down at the table, Doug sees Leena cuddling Aadam, who’s holding one ear as if he’s in pain. He takes the boy onto his lap and reassures him that he knows it’s noisy, but it’s ok. His son, Matthew, sees this and starts kicking up a fuss because Adam’s wearing a pair of his shoes. His mother comes over and yells at him for wandering off, smacking him on the bottom. Matthew runs off and Doug goes to fetch him back. Sarah takes the opportunity to tell Leena to stay the hell away from her husband.

Ralph catches Alice near the coconut toss game and tells her she needs to do and say what she thinks is right, and he’s sorry. She thanks him. Peace restored, he takes a turn at the game, noticing the bracelet Adam wears. He clearly recognizes it and asks Alice who the boy is.

Ian’s uncle, whose name is Stafford, apparently, is watching a wrestling match. Sood comes over and hands him a document: an official notice of eviction. Stafford doesn’t even look at him as he dismisses it. Sood tells him he has 45 days to get lost. Stafford grabs him aggressively and Sood firmly removes his hand before bidding him good day. Stafford loses his head and attacks, throwing Sood to the ground and goading him to fight back. Sood does not, probably because he knows what would happen to him if he hit a white man. A crowd just stands there, watching. And then karma steps in where everyone else should have and gives Stafford a heart attack. What a shame. Ian comes flying in and yells for a doctor. Cynthia’s like, ‘fine, ok, call for a doctor.’ She then glares at Sood, for some reason.

The next day, Cynthia makes her way out to Stafford’s place to reassure Ian that his uncle will be fine. And then, bizarrely, she blames the heart attack on Sood, saying he very nearly killed Stafford and it’s a good thing Ian arrived when he did.

Ok, now this show’s just starting to piss me off. Now, I’m not an expert in India during the Raj, and I know there was a lot of terrible treatment of most Indians and it’s no wonder they wanted independence. HOWEVER, I also know that upper-class Indians mixed with the English a fair bit. Yes, they belonged to separate clubs and didn’t intermarry, but they went to each other’s homes and entertainments and mixed socially at times. Sood is clearly upper class: he has money, is very well dressed, and speaks English perfectly. I find it very hard to believe that everyone in Simla would be willing to believe Sood was to blame in any way for what happened when Stafford clearly attacked in front of plenty of witnesses, both white and Indian. It’s absurd to try and spread a story that Sood was somehow the aggressor. And why do that anyway? This show needs to ease up on the whole racism thing. We. Get. It.

Cynthia looks at the plantation, if you can call it that, and comments that it’s a mess. She pats Ian on the shoulder comfortingly. Poor lad’s got his work cut out.

Alice and Aafrin arrive at the police station to give their statements for the inquest. They’re shown into separate offices (of course, Alice is taken to a nice one, and Aafrin is taken to one where the fan doesn’t work) and both report that they heard the shooter yell, ‘you British devil’ before he shot.

The women in jail are taken out for sentencing. Along the way, however, Sooni is taken out of the line so she can be released. She reaches for the speaker as she passes, but the woman is hustled along. She calls back for Sooni to find her own way and make a contribution.

The man interviewing Aafrin excuses himself, leaving some files on his desk. Aafrin opens one and sees that it’s a file devoted to the shooter. In it is the forged membership card for the congress. He remembers his sister calling him British propaganda and he pockets the card before putting the file back. He is released from the interview and heads home. Alice, leaving as well, sees him go and stares after him.

Aafrin dodges through the marketplace and arrives home. He stands just inside the door, panting and looking freaked out, and then goes and hides the membership card in a box in his room. Sooni arrives home and he goes out to embrace her.



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