I am very selective about the parenting columns and articles I read. If a writer’s view of life matches mine or successfully leaves me craving for a deeper insight, I am sure to dig up more articles written by them before becoming a devoted reader of all they publish. This isn’t limited to the trending articles but applies also to bloggers.
Needless to say, social media has gifted me the ease to follow my favourite writers. Natasha Badhwar is one of them. I had been introduced to her weekly column in the Mint Lounge around a year ago via a retweet on Twitter. Her gentle humour and candour without a hint of preaching made me eagerly wait for her articles every Saturday morning.
This was when, earlier this year, she announced that her essays were being compiled into a series of two books. I at once knew I had to grab a copy.
As a parent blogger, I was curious about how would Natasha balance the fine line of baring her life with her children, the nuances of her married life without showing it all, yet delivering without sounding like she’s got it all sorted.
To my utter delight, the book despite the title hinting it to be a book on parenting is a memoir, a collection of essays that plunges deep into Natasha’s life and views on everything that has been a part of her existence. Here, she introduces the readers to her parents, siblings, three daughters, maids, in-laws, her colleagues and everyone who has left a lasting impact on her.
Have you ever met someone, whom you’ve come to know via the Internet and have an only cursory idea about their life through the limited interactions?
I had a similar anxiety while making up my mind to pick this book.
The book has a vibrant cover with a family portrayed in warm shades, highlighting the fact that the book primarily revolves around the author’s family life.
From the moment I started reading this collection of personal essays, I got more and more comfortable with Natasha’s voice and couldn’t help but nod my way through every line.
Her first essay is aptly titled ‘It is okay to talk about this’ where she addresses the fears I have always harboured being an anonymous, personal blogger, sharing my private life in detail.
“In my early thirties, I began to blog anonymously after our second daughter. I write to express happiness. I write to see myself through the tunnel of darkness. I write myself out of the bottomless well. I sort out my position and my feelings by writing about them. I write, also, to make a place for love. This is important. We refuse to recognize love, for fear of what it might ask from us. We shoo love away and destroy it. We express love as anxiety and fear. Let’s separate fear from affection. Let our love be seen and felt.”
Her introduction of her daughters and the family at large opened the gates of validation, recognition and most importantly of relatability in a way that I could see my daughter in Natasha’s second daughter, Aliza and myself in her eldest child, Sahar.
Her nuggets of wisdom, that I have come to love from her weekly columns, adorn this book, holding together the essays in a heartwarming way.
I have been increasingly feeling how I was gradually becoming like my mother, despite my belief that it was something I least wanted to happen. Though I have been contemplating on this for a while, my answers came in Natasha’s words.
“Being a parent means feeling, at once, a sense of pride and a sense of loss. It’s hard to put your finger on what is missing. You sift through childhood memories again and again for clues- for a sense of what has been mislaid. You sift through them, also, to identify fears that you don’t want to pass on and the traumas you don’t want your kids to relive.”
In this memoir, while sharing memories of her life as a journalist and now a working from home mother, Natasha takes the reader through all the important aspects of modern life from an open-minded perspective. Not being judgemental and opting for the rational route is what makes her writing so appealing.
Natasha’s words are a warm reassurance to everyone (like yours truly) who had to make a career shift and start working from home building a career from scratch, that they aren’t alone in this, feeling the pangs of loss and anxiety.
“In the early days, it felt as if I had returned a borrowed superhero’s costume and walked in everyday clothes in the street, like a nobody”.
If you’ve lived a similar life, you’d be moved by how powerful and extraordinary these seemingly simple words are.
“In the middle of my career, I was starting from scratch. I was doing nothing. But I was healing.”
If you’ve been impressed by Natasha’s columns, be prepared to be amazed by her clarity while charting out the working woman’s manifesto where she’s said it like it is, while leaving plenty of room for every reader to carve her own path and work like the world is her oyster.
“Women are always at work. We need to start honouring the work we do every day. A global culture that calls it ‘work’ only when it is remunerated needs to be challenged with a new language and framework.
Unacknowledged fatigue and unarticulated responsibilities bog us down. The narrative that women and mothers should compromise their ambitions and neglect their talents for the greater good of the family is a lie. Don’t accept it!”
Her thoughts and first-hand experiences on interfaith marriage, taking care of elderly parents and in-laws, grief, death, births, self-love, identity, nationality, changing times, working from home, road trips, feminism, aloneness, self-discovery, saying sorry to Shahrukh Khan, using the phrase ‘Dehati Women’ as an abuse, women’s safety and so much more. It is all there.
This is a book that every Indian woman, parent or not, can relate to. The simple yet impactful writing inspired me to read this rather fast-paced book in small bites over a span of two months. I savoured it like a prized bar of exquisite chocolate in small chunks to let it’s magical, delightful flavour fill my system with validation, revelation and self-discovery in a way, I’ll cherish for a long time.
Beyond the beauty of her thoughts and words, the author has shared real-life episodes of her family life, in form of colourful interactions of her children shared in sketches and collages are the cherry on the cake.
My only criticism about the book is that the personal snippets would have had a better impact on the reader had they been printed in colour as photographs instead of the black and white photocopied versions.
Overall, the book works like a balm on the bruised soul leaving it feeling fuller, validated and at peace of being who they are and for all the choices they have made thus far in life.
The candidness of Natasha’s voice, the humour in her fleeting narratives, and the fragility of the diary entries add to the charm of this memoir.
In my mind, Natasha is now my best friend who somehow knows how to give my zillion thoughts the shape of words that make perfect sense. I can’t wait for the second book in this two book series.
I’d like to end with the words, the author used to open the book;
“I’m carrying within me various permissions for myself. Simple words meant to override the messages I had internalized while growing up.”
About the Book:
Title – My Daughter’s Mum
Author – Natasha Badhwar
Publisher – Simon & Schuster India
Genre – Non-Fiction/ Memoir
ISBN – 978-93-86797-00-1
Pages – 254
Price – INR 350 (Get the best deal here)
About the Author:
Natasha Badhwar was born in Ranchi, grew up in Kolkata and refused to accept Delhi as the home for the next three decades. She began her career in broadcast journalism with New Delhi Television (NDTV) as the first female videographer in news television in India. She quit thirteen years later as vice president, training and development. She now works as an independent film-maker, media trainer, columnist and fashion entrepreneur. Natasha writes the popular column ‘My Daughters’ Mum’ in Mint Lounge. She lives in New Delhi with her husband and three daughters.
P.S.- Recipes of the food items used in the above pictures can be found in my kitchen corner.
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