Ahead of Mother’s Day, indianexpress.com approached a few prominent authors and asked them to share their list of must-read books that they would recommend to their mothers. In part four of this series, we spoke to Nandana Dev Sen, author of children’s books like Mambi and the Forest Fire, Talky Tumble of Jumble Farm.
What books would one recommend to their mother who is a voracious reader and a beloved author in her own right? Nandana Sen understands this perfectly well. Sen refuses to list out books exclusively for her mother Nabaneeta Dev Sen, a recipient of Padma Shri, Sahitya Akademi. “She has read most of them already, I’m sure,” she says.
Books form an integral part of their relationship. Sen owes her love for books to her mother. They also remind Sen of her. It is also a scent, one that Sen refers to as the “Ma-Ma-smell” — an amalgamation of “her hair, her sari, books, tea, and jui-phool-bel-phool” — that remains indelibly linked to her mother.
Sen confesses that missing her mother is a continuous process. “Wherever I am in the world, I always miss her. Ma taught me to love books as a writer,” she says.
She adds that Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s works, which follow a familiar narrative where a woman has to make tough choices, have not only grown on her but has made more sense to her with time. “Now that I’ve become a mother myself, I understand this even better than before,” she says.
Sen picked five books that explore deep into the mother-daughter bond.
* Hajar Churashir Maa by Mahasweta Debi
* Beloved by Toni Morrison
* Bindur Chele by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay
* The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
* Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory C Keck and Regina M Kupecky
“All of these books speak, in unique ways, about the heart as well as the hurt that can underlie motherhood. They powerfully illuminate the pain that can come from inevitable misunderstandings, potential rivalries, oppressive norms and societal expectations, just as affectingly as they explore the unconditional love that is so integral to the mother-daughter bond,” she says.
Along with novels, even poems remind Sen of her mother. “Poetry means Ma to me,” she says. “We’ve had superb readings together of her poetry and my translations of them across the world, in cities as diverse as New York, Beijing, Dhaka, Kolkata and London.”