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My Mother My Strength

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Item Code: IHL059
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Jayashree Mohanraj
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 8129114372
Pages: 200 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
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Book Description

People who deny the existence of God are not hard o find, but nowhere can we find a person who has denied the existence of mother. A popular Telugu song has lyrics to this effect. No statement can hold more truth, for the world exists because there is a ‘mother’.

Woman is endowed with this unique ability to create. Man initiates the process and then is withdrawn into the role of a spectator. Some empathise with their women in the creative process while others remain mere spectators. The mother occupies a special place in one’s life, which cannot be replaced by anyone else. The strongest bond a human being ahs is with that of the mother. The umbilical cord ties the child to the mother. Though the child attains freedom with the cutting of the cord, the sensitive central spot remains indelible and fragrant throughout its life.

The psyche and role of mother have been a fertile ground for academic studies and creative writing through the ages. The traditional image of a mother is that of a person who gives herself completely to her children once she gives birth. Gandhari in Irawati karve’s ‘Yugantha’, says, ‘I had no life of my own. All my life, their moments of happiness were my moments of happiness; their moments of sorrow were mine.’ Gandhari’s words are true of any mother whose life revolves around he children. Ancient history and literature the world over abound in illustration reiterating the bond between mother and son.

Indian history alone has Kausalya, Kaikeyy and Rama; Kunti and the Pandavas and Karna; Sunithi and Dhruva; Renuka and Parasurama; Jijabai and Shivaji. The influence of the mother over her son and the respect she wields is beyond doubt. In fact, the greatest insult a men feels, even today, is an abusive word for his mother. He has this compelling feeling that he is an abusive word for his mother. He has this compelling feeling that he is ever indebted to her.

After having reached the height of his career, a man felt a duty to repay his mother for all that she had done for him. He asked, ‘Mother, what can I give you? What can I do for you? I sincerely wish to repay you for the sacrifices you made for me and for all the love you have showered upon me.’

The mother looked surprised and said, ‘Why do you think about it? It was my duty so I did it, you don’t have to repay me. Even if you want to, there is no way a man can ever repay his mother.’

Despite her continuous refusal to ask for anything, the son persisted. To put an end to the discussion, she said, ‘All right. If you must, then tonight you sleep on my bed, with me, just as you used to when you were a baby.’

He said, ‘That’s a strange thing to ask for, but if it pleases you, I will’.
As soon as he fell asleep, the mother got up and brought a bucket of water. She poured a mug full of water on his side. Feeling disturbed by the wetness under him, he moved away to the other side of the bed in his sleep. As he settled down, his mother poured find space towards the foot post of the bed.

Sometime later he woke up feeling that part of the bed too was damp. He got up and saw his mother with the mug in her hand. He asked angrily, ‘What are you doing mother? Why don’t you let me sleep? How do you expect me to sleep on a wet bed?’

Mother said, ‘I slept with you, when you wet the bed in the night. I would change your nappy and move you to the dry part of the bed, while I slept on the set side. You wanted to repay me. Can you sleep here even for one night with me on a damp bed? If you can, I’ll take it that you have repaid me.’

Epics and historical narratives recount tales of mothers as a source of inspiration and strength for their sons. In the Mahabharata, Kunti and her sons offer a classic example. For the Pandavas, Kunti’s word was command even if she blurted it out unintentionally. Narratives tell us how her abandoned son Karna relates with her. Recent history recounts how Shivaji’s mother was instrumental in his becoming a great warrior, inspiring him with tales of valour right from his childhood. Gandhari felt that her life ceased to have any meaning the moment she learnt that all her sons died. But, besides the hundred sons, Gandhari had also given birth to a daughter, Dussala. Not much is discussed about how Gandhari and Dussala related with each other.

In the Ramayana, Sita is known as Janaki – after her father King Janaka. There is almost no information about her mother – King Janaka’s wife – in the entire Ramayana. In fact her name is not even mentioned. And that was in the Threta Yuga. Because she was found in the furrow on the farm land Sita is said to be the daughter of Mother Earth. The mother – daughter relationship is brought out in its completeness when the daughter, Sita, in her angst appeals to her mother to take her back into her womb and Mother Earth’s womb opens up to accept her child back. This act is symbolic of the strong bond between mother and daughter. The new come to the Dwapara Youa Drauadi or Yagnaseni’s mother Prishati of the Mahabharata. It is interesting to learn that among the various names Draupadi has, she is also known as Parshati after her mother.

‘A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role models, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships,’ says Victoria Secunda. In fact, of all the bonds, the most primal bond is between a mother and her daughter. It’s the original relationship, and it’s also a relationship that has been sentimentalized but no honoured,’ say lee Sharkey who directs of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Maine, Farmington. This could be one reason why such a significant relationship is not recorded adequately in the epics.

The bond between mother and daughter starts at an early age when the girl wants to be like her mother. This attitude undergoes a change during youth when the daughter may want to be a undergoes a change during youth when the daughter may want to be a different person, not quite like her mother who is looked upon as an individual out of touch with the current reality. However, later in life, she begins to rediscover her mother and finds a friend in her. Hence to quote Lee Sharkey again, ‘Women grow up and our energy is largely turned toward men, but the original love relationship is with a mother. If we as daughters don’t acknowledge that, we’re closing ourselves off from a great source of power and fulfillment and understanding of ourselves.’

All the creative writers in this collection have acknowledged this fact. The narratives included here are honest accounts of their relationship with their mothers. The mother – daughter relationship can be very complex. This book is a spectrum of memoirs, emotions and recollections – some good, others mostly fond and a few sour but not bitter. Moreover, the emotions are invariably rationalized by the daughter in later life. Even if there is a tings of bitterness and emotional distancing between the mother and daughter, it gets mellowed and the gaps are bridged with age maturity. All the mothers presented her belonged to the early twentieth century India.

Views on the women of India, both popular and academic, are usually beset with stereotypes, which, like other generalities, tend o attribute the condition of south Asian women to race or gender characteristics rather then social conditions. Labels such as docile, gentle, or nurturing undoubtedly connote some social realities but through uncritical usage have become such universal verities that they invite little or no attention to the conditions that gave rise to them, obscure facts, and demand conformity. They also disregard women’s own initiatives, often futile but never abandoned.

It is in this context the collection assumes greater importance. The women discussed in these narratives are all women of early twentieth century India. Ordinary housewives as they were, these women of a century ago emerge as women of substance and sources of strength, contrary to the image of docility and weakness generally presented to the world by authors and academicians. The real women presented here are generous, sometimes generous to a fault, in the face of hunger and others’. Even the most significant acts of generosity, which elevate ordinary mortals to divine heights, are performed with a quiet simplicity. They are liberated from within. They have set some values for themselves. Ensconced in a conservative society and living within the precincts of orthodoxy, they show courage and conviction against caste discrimination. When the question of happiness of their daughters arises, they do not hesitate to defy societal norms, and lend tacit support to the daughters. Almost all the women discussed are married to men much older. Denial of formal education does not thwart them from educating themselves, besides supporting and promoting their husbands’ success at the same time. They have fulfilled their aborted desire to be educated, and created a space for themselves. They are dignified, strong, vibrant and quite capable of inspiring and becoming a driving force in their daughters’ lives and creativity.

All the illustrious daughters have learnt to acknowledge and appreciate these positive qualities in their mothers. Though they shared a close bond with their mothers, some were not vocal about it while their mothers were alive, and this silence found expression in some way or the other in their writings and the way they related with their own children in their later lives.

Daughter become mothers and bring in afresh realization of the ever – turning wheel of creation. When the mother comes alive in the daughter’s motherhood, the mother is reborn. Like the legendary phoenix, the birth of the mother happens again and again, making a statement that eternity is reiterated through generations.


Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xi
My Mother -Indira Goswami 2
My Mother Radharani (1903-89) -Nabaneeta Dev Sen 12
Mother -Lakshmisree Banerjee 22
Ma - Padma Sachdev 30
My Amma, Padmasani - Prema Nandakumar 38
Dear Mother -Jayashree Mohanraj 46
My Mother -Brucellish K. Sangma 52
A Letter to Ali Doso (Ali, the old man) Alias Ba - Bindu Bhatt 60
My Mother: Nirmala, Nimu, Nalini, Limbu - Anjali Khandwalla68
Monsoon Morning and Mom - Himanshi Shelat 78
My Mother - Kanaka Ha. Ma. 86
If Only Ammu Had Been My Daughter - Krishna Sobti 94
My Mother the Strength of My Existence - Jayanti Nayak 104
Amme - V.M. Girija 114
To My Mother - Saniya 120
My Mother - Malsawmi Jacob 128
Mother – My Unread Book - Pratibha Ray 136
Bou… -Soudamini Nanda 146
Mother - Sivasankari 154
Amma! - Thangam 160
Mother, I Salute You - Malathy Chendur 166
Amma! -Abburi Chaya Devi 172
My Mother Kasi Annapurna - Kondaveeti Satyavathi176
Amma -Jilani Bano186


**Contents and Sample Pages**


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