The bond shared by a mother and a child is special and inexplicable. Often, habits, private nicknames and idiosyncrasies contribute in making it beautiful. It goes without saying that you learn from your mother in more ways than one and nothing you do can ever add up to her efforts toward making your world a safer, better and happier place. But you can always pamper her in ways only you can think of or, even better, if she is a bibliophile, leave her alone for a while with a new book in hand to enjoy during those solitary, summer afternoons.
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. The first in our series was Anuja Chauhan, author of The Zoya Factor. The second was Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, author of The Adivasi Will Not Dance. The third is Natasha Badhwar, author of My Daughters’ Mum.
“I often feel that everything I write is a way to find my way back to Sudha, my mother,” says Natasha Badhwar, author of My Daughters’ Mum. A journalist, independent filmmaker and a writer, Badhwar in her memoir interweaves the personal and the political, writes extensively about raising children and her relationship with her own mother.
She refuses to describe her relationship with her mother Sudha Badhwar in monolithic terms, because plainly it is not possible. It is a bond that evolves and its changing dynamics do not escape her. “Any relationship between a parent and a child has several hues. There are cultural and inter-generational differences that get magnified at different points in life,” she says. However, she is quick to add that these conflicts, which primarily are misunderstandings, can be and are resolved with time. “Once one has rebelled and found one’s place under the sky, it becomes imperative to restore the essential connection with one’s parent,” she adds. It is this “essential connection” that she too is trying to rejuvenate with her mother through the medium of writing.
In 2008, Badhwar quit her job as Vice-President Training and Development at NDTV to “explore other creative parts” in her. Then, a mother of two, Badhwar admits her job was comfortable and the decision to start fresh rather unconventional. “I felt quite quite isolated when I took the decision,” she says. It was her mother’s immediate approval that helped her at that time to continue and not feel insecure. But, it’s not just the unflinching faith and belief in herself that she imbibed from her mother. “I have learnt to be patient, to bide time and rely on silence rather than words from her,” she says.
An acclaimed author today, Badhwar remembers being surrounded by books while growing up. Even though she took up the habit of reading from both her parents, it was her mother, she remembers, who would get new books and comics within the tight budget of a middle-class household. It is not only reading but perhaps also the art of writing that she has acquired from her mother. “My mother has been a voracious letter writer and I am absolutely convinced that she is a writer,” Badhwar says.
Ahead of Mother’s Day, Badhwar spoke to indianexpress.com and listed out five books she will recommend to her mother.
Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia M Axline
A deep, gentle book about a boy, his mother and their therapist using play therapy and deep listening to walk away from childhood trauma and misunderstanding towards a recovery of the self and finding their own place under the sun. This book has helped me heal. It will be perfect for my Mum too.
Adha Gaon by Rahi Masoom Raza (Divided Village)
This is my husband’s favourite novel, in large part because it documents — with great acumen — the turmoil of the partition of India and the disruption caused by it in the lives of ordinary people far removed from the centre of power. Additionally, it is set in the rural Ghazipur of the 1940s, a time and place that shaped the community he grew up in. My mother will love the grounded setting, the familiar characters, their lively dialect and the wizardry of Raza’s literary craft.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Mum has grown up among the usual prejudices and stigma about mental health issues. Yet, she instinctively understands diversity and gravitates towards those who are marginalised, vulnerable and misunderstood. She is a healer and nurturer, and the empathetic storytelling skills of Oliver Sacks will really speak to her. These real-life stories of people who struggled with and triumphed over rare neurological disorders will validate her.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
My daughters discovered the magic of this book and chased me down till they made me read it. “It’s about a girl, who turns her despair into strength, and rescues herself all on her own,” my daughter had said to inspire me. I insist on taking it forward and offering it to my own mother to read.
New Delhi Love Songs by Michael Creighton
Mum is a Delhi girl, she is a poet at heart, she seizes every chance to find beauty in the small moments of life. A book of poems seeped in the colours, textures and smells of Delhi would be a fitting bedside companion for her.