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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Family Fables and Hidden Heresies

A Memoir of Mothers and More

I have heard of a family tree...but your family...that's no's a jungle...
This one sentence describes perfectly the Indian family and it's significance especially during the most important events of one's life.
In the words of the author...the numbers that tumble out of every nook and corner during an important function clearly epitomises the Great or Grand Indian family.
But how much do we really know our family? What motivates them, what goes towards the making of the people they are in their present life? These are typically mysteries that those lower down in the family tree often wonder. A bunch of Sepia toned images help them form an impression of the past of the older ones.
In is book, the author demystifies the women of her family and is truly exemplary. She does it not with just a bunch of old pictures but has numerous journal entries and letter written to each other to support the making of this book.
This story is written straight from the heart but has facts to support. As she goes over the memoirs and collected letters of her mother, she realises the history that shaped her mother and grandmother.
She writes about her holidays in the small village of Kamshet and describes it as an experience that was totally afar from the quaint Enid Blyton villages. Or a holiday that was unique when compared to the holidays spent in hill stations and so called destinations.

This book is not just a story but a discovery of sorts. It could be the author's story. It could be my story. It could be your story. It also traces the effects of key historical events and social structures and rules on the lives of these women. What did widowhood mean in different points of time. A haldi kumkum routine was so important to the author's mother but why was it not so important to the author. Was it just a social context or did it have deep rooted emotional reasons. Writing it all out from her mother's perspective makes the author see it all in a different light.
'Denuded of her woman's identity through sudden widowhood, she would have fallen back on her daughter, wanting her above everyone else to acknowledge her personhood, not just her motherhood...while for the daughter, from being the mother, the dependable rock, she becomes just a person, fallible, weak and vulnerable.'
So beautifully written sentence that makes us give a thought on how we take our own mother's for granted forgetting hat she is a person before she is a mother. Or perhaps, as our mothers, we are also built to be like that when our time comes.
A very though provoking book.

Title - Family Fables and Hidden Heresies
Author- Vrinda Nabar
Price- Rs 299
Publisher- Harper Collins

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