Book Review: Letters to My Mother

Author: Vikkas Arun Pareek

What happens when a child grows up in a toxic environment where the mother hates the kid because she is born a girl? This is the first-generation to second-generation transition where Shakuntala is the mother and Janki, is her daughter. Shakuntala is married off very early and practically grows up along with her husband Shekhar who later goes into the Army. Through her letters to her mother, Shakuntala vents out her anguish when she speaks about her difficulties in a different household from her maternal home and later falling in love with her husband, not wanting a girl child and finally losing it all when she delivers a stillborn child. She brazenly admits to ill-treating her daughter who eventually revolts and grows up to hate her mother.

The other set of letters is from Janki to Shakuntala where she agonises over the lack of maternal love that she craved all her life and her mindset during crucial junctures of her life.

The story unravels the raw pain of each of the women, Shakuntala her daughter Janki and later Meera, Janki’s daughter. It speaks volumes about how a safe haven filled with love and acceptance is crucial for a child’s upbringing. Janki is a rebel who pays a heavy price later in life.

It’s only after Janki’s passing in the 9/11 incident that Meera inherits her letters and it takes over a decade for Meera to be able to read them and in turn, understand her mother and grandmother.

the first-person POV in the letters keeps the reader glued throughout as he navigates the emotional roller coaster.

The ending could have been a bit different, yet the book makes for a very interesting read.

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