Do you know the feeling when you like someone or something so much that you’re afraid to express it in words because you fear you may trivialise it? I am currently in that exact frame of mind. It also strikes me as coincidental that this very often applies to when one is trying to articulate one’s love for one’s mother. So before I go into the details, I would like to confess from the very beginning that ‘A Mother’s Secret’ by Renita D’Silva has rightfully bagged its place in my list of favourite books.
Most chapters of the book contain narratives in the first person by different women which I found engaging as I felt that they were speaking to me and telling me their story. The character development is phenomenal and these are characters that will remain etched in my memory for a long time. Kali, Durga, Sudha and Jaya. Who are these women? Are they linked? If yes, how? If not, is there a missing link? D’Silva weaves magic with her words and tantalisingly helps you put together the pieces of the proverbial jigsaw. To say that D’Silva is a brilliant writer would not be an exaggeration. Her writing strikes a beautiful balance between being both evocative and descriptive so that you are able to comprehend the story whilst the characters emote. They emote, and how?! There were times during the course of the story that I became aware of goose bumps on my skin because of the very raw emotions that were unearthed. The use of imagery and metaphors is exceptional e.g. red mud being compared to clotted dried blood.
The book to me was a warm hug on a cold winter’s day. I say this because the landscapes described in the book reminded me of my ancestral village in Karnataka and of my mother and grandmother who both continue to influence my life in wonderful ways and from whom I continue to derive immense strength. The dynamics of various relationships be it husband-wife, mother-daughter, grandmother-granddaughter, mother in law – daughter in law, siblings, lovers, friends, master-servant are skilfully described and poignantly probed. When one attempts to address such a wide range of relationships in one book, it is very easy to lose track of the plot. However, I was pleased that D’Silva commits no such folly.
The themes in the book deftly tackle human experiences of love, loss, deception, expectations, the politics of class and caste and most importantly, the ambition to always better oneself and/or one’s situation. The book leaves you feeling hopeful and grateful. It reminds you to not be quick in judging the behaviour of others as their underlying motive may not always have an easy explanation. Maybe, just maybe, you have to attempt to peel away each layer until you reach the core and until then, be quietly confident that some rationale will most certainly emerge.
I will leave you to ponder over a sentence from the book that I know will remain with me because it made so much sense in today’s world where we are all rushing to achieve something or reach somewhere. “I don’t want to read them [letters] in one huge, breathless gulp, like a novel where you’re so desperate to know the ending that you miss so much in between – subtle nuances, the authors carefully constructed cues”.
‘A Mother’s Secret’ is set to release on 7th April 2016 and I am so pleased that I was given the opportunity to read this wonderful novel before its release date. A huge thank you to the author and publisher!