Book Review: A Mother’s Secret by Renita D’Silva

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Some authors, I pick up without a second thought, or rather I grab their books greedily, sometimes to read right away, sometimes to be kept away to savour when I’m in the right mood to enjoy them them most. Renita D’Silva’s books have fallen into those books that I grab greedily. This one was no exception and I read it in one shot because I couldn’t bear to stop.

Jaya has had double tragedies. Her mother dropped dead of a massive heart attack when she was pregnant with her son Arun. A few months later her son dies of cot death. Jaya is completely broken by both these tragedies. She has not only lost her mum and son, she had also pushed away her husband, Ben. The closeness they shared seemed to be a thing of the past. Overcome by sadness and guilt, guilt that she should have somehow kept her son alive, guilt that she never got to know her mother, had her turn to therapy. As she progresses through therapy she starts looking at her mother’s belongings which she hadn’t had the courage or strength to look at.

Her mother had been extremely reticent about herself. Jaya knew almost nothing about Sudha. All her efforts to find out while Sudha was alive didn’t go far. As she gathers the will to go through her mum’s belongings, she finds diaries and pictures of a place in India. As she starts to read through Sudha’s diaries, the person who her mother was begins to emerge. She starts to understand her mother’s little behaviours which had made no sense until then.

Before she got a chance to finish reading Sudha’s diaries, a missive from India brings things to a head.

Along with Jaya’s journey of discovery, runs a parallel story of Durga, a little girl thrown into confusion when her parents meet with a horrific accident and end up in coma. Durga is a strong willed girl who isn’t exactly a favourite of her neighbours. They start looking after her initially after the accident, but soon has her carted off to her grandmother who had never shown any interest in her granddaughter. Durga finds herself in a ruin of a grand mansion with her grandmother and a woman who is considered mad by the village folks.

What is the link between Jaya and Durga? You’ll have to read to find out. But what I can promise you is that it is a great read. Intriguing as you try to understand where the story is going and the final revelation. I kind of guessed what was coming but that didn’t detract my enjoyment of the book at all.

I’ve always found Renita’s writing very vivid, invoking strong imagery of the setting and the trials that her characters go through. Be it social discrimination or conditioning, or the wonderful descriptions of food. Especially the descriptions of food. I could feel Sudha’s pain as she grows up with the disapproval of her parents, of Kali’s motivation to better her status. Her characters aren’t black and white. You feel for Kali even when she is at her darkest. You understand why she (and Sudha, for that matter) does what she does. A book that was an absolute pleasure to read.

My rating – 4.5/5

About the Author

Renita D’Silva is the auther of 4 books, ‘Monsoon Memories’,’The Forgotten Daughter’,’The Stolen Girl’ and ‘A Sister’s Promise’. Her books evoke vivid imagery of India and food and makes for very compelling reads.

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