Mai: Silently Mother

Publisher: Niyogi Books
Author: Geetanjali Shree
Translated (from Hindi) by: Nita Kumar

Year of Publication: 2017

A mother is a very significant ‘character role’ played by a woman, and now a days also by people of all gender. But the basic idea of giving birth by a woman and its immediate next step to be called and behave like a mother is something worth thinking about.

The novel Mai: Silently Mother is a simple real reading of the story which won’t appear new to you in terms of its setting and characters, if you are acquainted with the Indian context.

Our households, their expectations and the traditional hierarchial practicies have made all of us assume our gender roles. The positioning of a mother is never thought of beyond the four walls of the house, largely, where she is supposed to cook, clean and care.

The novel doesn’t aim to break stereotypes but certainly leaves the reader sensitised about a woman in general, and her journey of many roles, but most importantly being a mother.

The story jerks the reader that a tale of a mother rests only in memories. There is no current time in which she lives, but basis everything associated with her through the people around her.

Being a woman, as the novel ended, I was both amazed at the characterisation of silent Mai to the loudest personality that she was.

A work of translation, it doesn’t seem so, and appears as if it was originally written in English. The ideas and images can be felt swiftly.

“But, somehow, with the peculiar genuis of literature, Mai also gives us character who ecompasses at least two faces – maybe three- without the negative implications of inconsistency. She opens up for us a past of girlhood and freedom, then a present of bondage and servitude, then a future yet unknown but full of potential.

Mai shifts the question from ‘What is a mother?’ to ‘What kind of a person is this mother?'”

Afterword, Nita Kumar