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Can a woman want more than her identities of a daughter, a wife, and a mother? Can we love and accept our parents even if they’re deeply flawed humans with their own dreams and desires?
A Mother’s Goodbye by Kasturi Patra is a sensitive, coming of age novel chronicling the lives of three fatherless siblings who are thrust in an impossible situation – abandonment by their mother.
The youngest of them being only eight, he clings to his two older teenaged siblings (oldest being a brother, followed by a sister) for comfort and security after waking up one morning to find that his mother is not at home.
The children wait for their mother to return but eventually the reality sinks in that they have been abandoned. The older kids have dreams; they have aspirations which are unexpectedly dashed when they are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of their sustenance and caring for their younger brother.
How would you react if one day you woke up to find your mother gone? Would you worry and as the day progressed would you start to panic about her safety and whereabouts? Or, would you feel anger towards her actions? Would you think her to be selfish for choosing her needs over and above those of her children? After all, is it not a mother’s sole job to procreate and care for her children?
What if, she left you a note, a very cryptic one at that, and said that she needed a time out? As a child would you be able to fathom the depth of the words hidden in that cryptic note? Would you be able to understand her perspective?
Mothers are supposed to look after their kids, no? They are supposed to be present unless snatched away by the hand of God. So, how can a mother seek a time-out? What would you think of a mother who leaves you to your fate without giving you a reason? Could you continue to love her or would you bear simmering resentment towards her?
A mother’s goodbye is a book about a mother’s secrets that are a result of a deep-seated feeling of discontent with life. It is a realistic portrayal of life for the author has not tried to gloss over any details. The author presents you with a flawed personality i.e., the mother who is as human as those that she cares for. Just because a woman is a mother doe not mean that her personal life and space do not exist, does it?
What if society’s construct of the image of an all-sacrificing mother is skewed?
Can a woman want more than her identities of a daughter, a wife, and a mother?
Can we love and accept our parents even if they’re deeply flawed humans with their own dreams and desires?
The book has an easy flow and the right element of suspense to hook you to flip the pages fast. However, if you expect that the suspense will build up to an element of thrill (detective story aficionados will feel this) then you are in for a disappointing end.
My advice – keep your expectations as realistic as the portrayal that the author has done. This is not a detective novel/thriller. This is a book with dramatic events that are a ‘true to life’ representation.
The author has deliberately kept it real because what she offers you is a slice of realistic fiction. The language is top-notch and the book is well-edited. You cannot help but empathize with the kids. You want to hug their insecurities away. You want to hold them and comfort them and shield them from the eventual harsh truth. The author makes you that much a part of their lives.
What I loved most about the story were the places where seemingly the author took a breather to pose some questions in the plot line. At unexpected times, just as the children question the disappearance of their mother, the author poses her own questions. That continues till the very end till the point where the mystery unfolds.
Another thing that I loved was that the author does not lacquer over the harsh reality of life portrayed by her. Instead, if anything, she contributes to it because she wants you to understand that life is hard and not every resolution comes at the level of satisfaction that you desire. Dreams, even long-held ones, can be dashed when weighed down by the onus of responsibility. But, new dreams, more pragmatic ones can be dreamt if we have the support of loved ones.
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Image source: a still from the film English Vinglish and book cover Amazon
Sonal is a multiple award winning blogger and writer and the founder of a women-centric manpower search firm - www.rianplacements.com.
Her first book, a volume of poetry - Islands in the stream - is slated read more...
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
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