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My Daughter’s Mum by Natasha Badhwar is a must read for any woman, as a daughter as well as a mother – a book that speaks of many aspects of being a woman today.
Some books are meant to become a part of you. And once you are finished reading them, it feels extremely light because you have made a new friend for life. That’s the kind of resonance you feel with Natasha’s voice. A kind of internalization happens as she walks you through her experiences; a gradual bond is created which is bound to just stay with you making you come back again and again to her powerful writing!
The book starts with the beautiful lines clearly bringing out the honesty with which Natasha shares her personal story – “I am carrying within me various permissions for myself. Simple words meant to override the messages I had internalized while growing up.”
While the broader themes like sensitivity to religion, political and social incidents, key coverages in her career as a media person run in the background, the foreground plays around what happens in our daily lives. Though her personal account yet it’s very much your and my story – career, parenting, raising kids, responding and handling to ageing parents and in-laws, love and differences – the equation with the spouse or the emotional process of deciding to quit a career at its peak, Natasha puts it with a unique panache. And the result is a memoir/ essay compilation which is simple yet grand in so many aspects!
Titled as a collection of personal essays, the book has essentially a universal appeal to its spirit. The author’s debut book is very relatable and the writing is beautiful and impactful, honest and vulnerable to the core. Being a mother myself, I just couldn’t stop just falling in love with the chapters when Natasha touches various aspects of parenting!
“Raising children and being in love makes me vulnerable. I have learnt vulnerability is pure courage. It gives me will to stand up to oppression – to be honest and confront!”
It was as if someone gave a voice to my weaknesses and vulnerabilities and taught me how to gather courage out of it.
The book is a mirror to the truths of our life stated so simply. We, as parents struggle most of the times under the weight of our own expectations and biases which we have been carrying since we were children. But like a butterfly’s cocoon, those need to be shunned for a beautiful new reality to come in. “Parenting is about destruction first -the soundless collapse of your ego. Creation comes later. It is redefining an identity”.
And why would one like to undergo this process of destruction again? “Why do we have one more child? Why do we again go back and disturb the balance that we took so long to find?” Something all of us go through when we are confronted with the difficult question of deciding to go in for second child or not. To which the author very beautifully reasons – “Because balance is not static. We cannot find equipoise and hold it on forever. Seasons will change, disasters will strike. Spring will come again. Everything is moving, evolving, growing, decaying around us.”
The prose which explains how welcoming the second child in a family is a kind of liberation for both the mother and her first one has been handled so well. The bubble which bursts when the second one arrives; the coming out from a self-contained island; something which is necessary and imminent while you keep questioning why the second one.
Natasha’s book is also a voice to every woman when she writes about feminism – “My feminism reminds me that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. It reassures and calms down to be people pleaser”. When someone like Natasha with so many firsts to her portfolio writes with such openness, she simply draws the reader to herself in a certain awe and respect – “In the early days, it felt as if I had returned a borrowed superhero’s costume and walked in everyday clothes in the street, like a nobody”. There is so much power in these lines – “In the middle of my career, I was starting from scratch. I was doing nothing. But I was healing.”
Then she goes on to put in a manifesto for working women which is simply impeccable.
I simply was bowled over by the audacity of these lines – “A global culture that calls it ‘work’ only when it is remunerated needs to be challenged with a new language and framework. Unacknowledged fatigue and unarticulated responsibilities bog us down. The narrative that women and mothers should compromise their ambitions and neglect their talents for the greater good of the family is a lie. Don’t accept it!”
An account of re-discovery of self through one’s children, of becoming a better person, of coming home to becoming one’s own parent, there is a magic in those simple and crisp sentences creating an effect of mystical healing! How you feel like coming back to home after achieving so much in life – how you want to become your mom’s daughter again or maybe for the first time. “All my life I had travelled and worked like my father and now I was coming home to become my mother. I become my mother’s daughter.”
Confessions; Revelations; Permissions; Reflections and Healing– the book will strike a chord with every Indian woman. As the author puts it – “I wanted to be all of myself at the same time, so I wrote, wrote wrote myself into fullness”. And for this effort of the author, the reader is certainly going to feel complete after reading it, most parts of which the reader would like to come back and read again and again.
Read My Daughter’s Mum because there is a Natasha in you, me and every woman listening to her heart’s voice and trying to make a change to her immediate and not so immediate world. Read it to heal yourself, to feel more confident and open to sharing what you feel in this journey as a feminist, a career woman, an ambitious spouse and a vulnerable mother!
“To restore the tattered fabric of the world around us, we must nurture its core unit – the family and the individual. I want readers to feel that their own stories and personal experiences are important, and sharing doesn’t diminish us. And becomes a part of you to remain with you ever.”
An adorable highlight of the book – the delightful anecdotes included in the form of conversations and reflections! Sample this – “Is Mumma angry?” Naseem asks Sahar. “No” she answers. “Is Papa angry?” “No” “Are you angry?” “No” “Then the chair must be angry” says Naseem.
Gift yourself a friend, reconnect with your inner voice – pick up My Daughter’s Mum!
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Top image via Pixabay and book cover via Amazon