Of Mother and Others Stories, Essays, Poems

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Item Code: NAF144
Author: Jaishree Misra and Shabhana Azmi
Publisher: Zubaan Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9789381017869
Pages: 307
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 320 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description

About the Book
This multi-layered and thought provoking collection offers a new and alternative view to the cozy images of motherhood that we so often assume. Motherhood for the writers in this collection is by no means a simple state but involves searching question about identity, writing one’s place in society-the very nature of the self Question of adoption, childlessness, surrogacy, bereavement and abuse figure alongside poems and stories that explore the tender, the funny, the uplifting aspects of this most vital relationship, between children and their mothers at any age.

About the Author
Jaishree Mishra
Jaishree Mishra has written seven novels all of which have been Indian bestsellers with sales of over 50,000 copies. Her most recent book deal, with Harper Collins in the UK, was for three commercial fiction novels Serest Lies published in July 2009, appeared soon after its release in the Heat seekers list of the UK charts Secrets Sins was released in August 2010 and A Scandalous Secret was released at the Hay-on-wyes festival in 2011.

A Mother called Birjrunisa in Rajasthan told us how her daughter Tamanna died when she was two- and-a half because she couldn’t take to the doctor-not just because it was far but also because the family didn’t have enough money Tamanna was suffering from pneumonia and diarrhea Her illnesses were treatable if only Birjrunisa could pay for her treatment.

Her face fell as the recounted the tale of her loss.

Shockingly, this is the prevailing reality of millions in our country. We lose 16.5 Lakh children every year-one child every nineteen seconds-India. In addition, women in India have only a 50/50 chance of anyone skilled to help them give birth, and in most cases, they pay with their lives.

These are not mere statistics but a reflection on how, as a nation and society, we treat our women and children. Poverty is a vicious cycle that pushes people to dire circumstance that we may be oblivious to. Deaths remain uncounted and families learn to copy with loss becomes an irreversible reality that is beyond their control. The sad truth is that one’s chance of survival mostly depend on where one is born and into which strata of society. For the poor, it is the lottery rather that the right to life and survival that determines their future.

Save the Children's campaign against needless child deaths attempts to make this invisible reality visible. We know change is possible. It need will and a commitment from each one of us to create a nation free of diseases, And a word of equal opportunities for children. Each of us has a role to play.

On behalf of Save the Children, I thank Jaishree Mishra who joined us in our efforts to champion this cause. I must also thank Zubaan in taking up this project and getting the book out in time I thank all the writers whose moving and inspiring pieces from this anthology.

Finally, our hope remain that the efforts will translate into timely political commitments towards mothers and children in our country, and that to gather we can create a nation where each of them counts. May this project move all its readers, and inspire them to contribute to the positive changes that we seek.

It is a little know fact that Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal Emperor shah Jahan’s favorite queen died due to complication related to repeated childbirth. For all its beauty, the Taj Mahal is a grim reminder of the fact that, even after 400 years, we seem to have done little to improve the health of the mothers in our country. India continues to hit the headlines because of our shameful record on maternal and child health. UN statistics indicate that in India, a woman dies in childbirth every ten minutes.

On the one hand, India is emerging as a global power and on the other, Save the Children’s annual State of the World Mother table on 'the best place to be a mother' places India 76th out of the 80 middle-income countries listed. In assuaging how we look after, educate and offer opportunities to our women and children, we do not come off well. At the same time, India accounts for one fifth of world’s burden of child mortality with 1.7 million children dying every year. We lose one child every nineteen seconds what’s worse most of these deaths can be easily prevented.

The number of woman we lose due to pregnancy-related issues in one week in India is more than in all of Europe in a whole year. In other words the number of woman that we lose in one year in India due to pregnancy-related issues is the same as having 400 plane crashes annually. Can you imagine what would happen if that were the case? Government would fall. But because in this case it is largely poor rural woman who are dying, nobody Is paying the slightest attention.

The question arises-are we, as a nation, failing to make woman and children count? Or have we simple become numb to large numbers?

I've been campaigning on this campaigning on this issue with Save the Children since 2009. Despite our huge efforts to raise awareness of the daily struggles of families at our very doorstep, there is still a long way to go.

Why are we lagging behind? To be honest, it’s hard to know where to fix the blame: we score below average on practically every front. I can’t help but notice that our that our biggest black mark is the fact that woman in India have only a 50/50 Chance of having anyone skilled to help them during childbirth.

Statistics like this reflect on how, as a nation and a society: how we treat women and girls: How we discriminate against them, disempowered them, relegate them to the margins and once they're there, neglect hem. We've done this for centuries.

During my visit to a slum in Delhi with Save the Children in 2011, I met woman too young to be mother and health workers who have the tell task of 'changing mindsets-something that will not happen overnight. One of the crucial areas that Save the children has been focusing on is the importance of nutrition or both mother and child. Often overlooked this is in fact the cause of a third of child and a fifth of all maternal deaths here again we are not taking home any prizes. We have the highest rate of child malnutrition of all middle-income countries and the second highest rate in the e entire world. A tenth of women in our country are undernourished themselves, and this is being passed on to their newborns from the womb as they start to develop, and on it goes.

The reality is that we are stuck in a vicious cycle. But with political will and increased social awareness, and with the excellent work being done organizations such as save the Children, I believe it is a cycle that can be broken.

Taking care of our women and children build not just a generation but the nation itself. We neglect mothers at our own peril, at the of society. If we are to lead as a nation, we must put our women and Children first.

The massage need to reach many more till our society is moved to redress this situation. This anthology is a small step in the right direction.

A little over the ago the wheels were set in motion by Jaishree Misra when she pledged her support for Save the Children by undertaking the book that you hold in your hand today . On behalf of save the Children, I would like to thank Jaishree the whole team at Zubaan, and everyone who has worked so hard on this project. Thanks to you all, and here’s hoping that the book will be a big success.

You would be forgiven for asking: why a book on motherhood? What is there to say on this subject expert for the usual platitudes Becoming a mother is invariable taken as being a joyful experience, longed for and aspired especially, in India, where childlessness carries a stigma worse perhaps than widowhood.

It started with an event organized by save the Children where I found myself promising to edit a book that would highlight the problems some woman face in caring for find that children. Rash, yes, but I had been staggered to find that, in India, we lose a child every nineteen seconds to easily preventable diseases and seemed worth trying to help the organization employ more health workers to assist struggling families. In such instances books are my preferred currency because they are more likely to change perceptions than all the money in the world.

Typically, on reflection, I found myself I a state of panic. Publishers have good reason to shy away from 'worthy' book, which are usually considered However there are fortunately still a small handful of publishers around, like Zubaan, who, despite who despite the many difficulties, ways to continue producing material that pushes boldly at all such boundaries Zubaan Come up with an enthusiastic offer of publication which was accompanied-almost like a good portent-by an excellent ready-made piece on the relationship between food and mothering by editor, Anita Roy. As we excitedly pooled names of writer friends that first meeting, I could start to see an anthology that would overturn all those glib presumptions about motherhood that are churned out by commerce and advertising. Yes, of course, the subject would be celebratory for those whose experience of this gift has been positive. But-if I were to stay true to my original promise-this would also be a book that would startle people out of their complacency, even if only to have them accept that motherhood isn’t always the comforting 'cuddly' experience we like to think it is. Not that I enjoy upsetting cherished notions but this is one way to help readers glance, for a moments, into the abyss that some women stare at every day.

Our guideline to contributors was this: Anything that examines the subject of motherhood is welcome: an essay or short story or poem. First, Second, third person, comic, tragic, soft, savage.... pick your style and be as bold as you like because it is exactly this variation in experience that we need to convey.

In the hands of talented writers, this was sure to open all sort of windows. And, to our delight, the response was overwhelming Almost everyone immediately had an opinion, an idea, a story; some wanted to waive even the token payments that were on offer, given Zubaan's excellent credentials and because this was an awareness and fundraising initiative. What astonished me further, as articles and stories started to gather in my mail-box, was the honesty with which everyone seemed willing to tackle such a personal subject I hope reader area as comforted by some of the pieces as I was my own feeling about motherhood being mixed at the best of time I should explain.

Motherhood come early in my own life, following an arranged marriage while I was still In my teens. I was too young and too confused to cope at well with cloth diapers and colic and swiftly turned into one of those anxious young mums my heart now goes out to. I'd had my child at the wrong and for all the wrong reasons and when, a few months later, it also emerged that she was mentally challenged, I thought, aged twenty-three, that life had ended. But I grew to love my daughter with fierce protectiveness and, as the years passed, it was the prejudices she faced that catalyzed me to take on and change many things that a more 'normal ' kind of motherhood might have shackled me to. Essentially she freed me from society’s expectations-a test which I had apparently failed anyway by having her at all-an so I got a divorce, rediscovered my first Love, moved to England become both a working woman and a novelist and embraced life in all its fullness. Paradoxically, it would seem, Motherhood become the driving force in my liberation as a woman.

Then, just as I finally started to enjoy my daughter, come a series of miscarriages. Four incomplete babies followed each other, all in the space of life Years It looked like motherhood wasn’t meant for me without all sorts of attendant heartache. There were the Years when I was in English and much help was at hand in the form of solicitous nurses, self-help groups, a sweet faced social worker who talked to us in a beguiling voice about the possibility of adoption. My husband and I were open to the idea, but were sure we only wanted a body from India, Partly because children of Asian origin hardly ever come up on the Adoption Register in Britain and we could have languished forever on a waiting list, no doubt growing increasingly desperate. This was when we found that British Home office rules at the carried a price tag of six thousand pounds for overseas adoptions. It wasn't parting with the money that worried us but, having spent most ouf our lives in India, we both knew of the circumstances under which most children end up in orphanages and six thousand pound was certainly a sum large enough to keep such a child a her own natural home for some considerable time. I wasn’t sure I could comfortably become mother to a child by the mere good fortune of having more money than her biological mother did not so, rightly or wrongly, that door was closed without further consideration. Doubts about whether we had made the right decision stayed with me for a long time and I have to say that the pieces on adoption in this book made me re focus my thoughts to a great degree.

Nevertheless, I learnt along the way to deal positively with this set-back. I stopped counting in my head the ages my miscarried brood would have been: the youngest, fifteen this year and my goodness, the oldest would have been twenty! Quite probably a college student bringing home dirty laundry, slouching on the sofa, mumbling a lot and finding fault with his father all the time. If it did come up in our conversation, my Husband and I would laugh wryly and-mostly-we genuinely stopped minding. I learnt to derive joy rather than envy from the successes of friends' children and the more generous of them freely gave me access to their rites of passage. Vicariously, thus I too heard of cooking experiments lived through the stress of board exams and college admissions, an experienced that motherly heart in mouth moment at first mention of back packing adventures in places I hadn’t even heard of .

Preface vii
Foreword ix
Introduction xiii
Determination 1
On the Other Side 11
Eating Body 18
Milky Ways: A contemplation of the Movie Maa 32
The Devi Makers 54
Selected Poems 66
Missed Call 82
A Grandmother at Large 101
Childless, Naturally 112
The State Can't Snatch Away our Children 125
Blankets in the sky 138
Name: Amba Dalmia 147
Portrat of the Mother as a Chair 161
He business of Mothering 173
'Shake Her, She is Like the Tree That Grows Money!, 185
The Gardenr's Daughter 207
Amma and Her Beta 232
Selected Poems 246
The first Cry 257
The Slep Flies off My Hand 265
Kunti 275
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