Aparna Liked Motherhood; She Just Wanted A Holiday From It Now And Then!

As I read Sowmya Rajendran's book Aparna's Year of the Elephant, I could hear myself speaking to the protagonist, “I know the feeling, trust me. And this too shall pass.”


It was one of those nights. The baby was on a sleep strike, my breasts were sore from posing as the milk bank for hours, and I was planning to google ways to put back the baby inside me. But, then time works funnily. While it seemed the hours were endless, the days passed in a jiffy. And before I knew it, the baby grew into a toddler, with a new set of challenges.

But, why I am talking about this 3 years late? Because the vivid memories came back strong as I read Aparna’s Year of the Elephant by Sowmya Rajendran.

The author’s wisdom and wit made what could have been a mundane read, an enjoyable one. You would find yourself chuckling at the situations that could happen with any of us. At places, Aparna’s tale reads like an autobiography (even the names are similar you see – Sreeparna/Aparna).

I could see myself empathizing with Aparna, wishing to be an elephant. The baby elephants who do not require cleaning up after them, do seem to be a blessing after the hundredth diaper change. On a side note, the elephant momma might have had her share of woes which we will never know.

Everybody needs a holiday; even a mother!

Coming back to the much relatable story of the young mother, anxious about her body image, insecure about her personality post-partum, and scheming to get the husband clear the baby poop – I could hear myself speaking to the protagonist, “I know the feeling, trust me. And this too shall pass.”

Each mother experiences their unique journey through motherhood but when I saw thoughts like, “Aparna liked motherhood. She just wanted a holiday from it now and then,” I felt she was my soul sister. Everybody needs a holiday. Even a mother.

But the part that was closest to my experience was perhaps the ubiquitous complaint of the in-laws and relatives, ‘Oh why is the baby so thin’. You would have just wrestled for an hour to feed your child and the shrapnel is targeted at you shattering all your confidence as a mother. In our country, chubby babies are equal to healthy (after a few years though these are the very people who will be behind your life to reduce the weight of the ‘fat’ child). Ask this mom of a 3-year-old who has always been on the ‘wrong’ side of the average weight,’ how tormenting the experience is as the mother is judged unnecessarily.

There was so much that was relatable to each mother!

As I swam through the pages of the quick read, I realized I could relate to each word as they talked about us, our female friendship, our partners, our secret desires, and the ups and downs of the relationship of new parents. We all have been there, and done that. From the new mother’s woes to the over-emotional mother-in-law and the balancing husband – the characters were straight out of our drawing rooms. What was appreciable was how the bullet was dodged cleverly and it never turned into a saas-bahu cliché trope.

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And while there were family dramas, there were the friends. We all need our herd. But with friends come their baggage. And the story scored well for me as unlike many clichéd portrayals, the book doesn’t overshadow the life of the friends with the problems of the protagonist.

Also, do not be fooled by the synopsis about an overwhelmed new mother having a new man entering her life. This book humorously steers away from those typical guilt-ridden affair stories (to my relief).

If I may nitpick the only character that did not work for me in this much-relatable saga was the ‘other man – Ved’. But, then that is a subjective call.

Overall this book helped me to come out of my prolonged reading slump and Sowmya gave me a friend to look up to who despite being the ‘heroine’ in her world navigates through problems that I face daily.

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Image source: by Jelena Stanojkovic from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro. Book cover Amazon.

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About the Author

Sreeparna Sen

Sreeparna Sen, Banker by profession, finds her solace in writing. A Computer Engineer by education, she is a voracious reader. When she is not dealing with the loan documents, you can mostly find her nose read more...

27 Posts | 66,494 Views

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