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Best of times, Worst of Times: Momspeak Perspectives

Momspeak: The funny, bittersweet story of motherhood in India is an original, provocative book that peels off the layers of social propriety and delves deep into the visceral reality of motherhood, much glorified but barely understood in India. Exploring the spectrum of experiences mothers have as women, as humans—from ecstasy to depression, jealous possessiveness to indifference, exhaustion to sensual desire—Pooja Pande reveals the personal, social and emotional roller-coaster that motherhood can be.

 

This Mother’s Day, Pooja Pande shares her thoughts on the experience of motherhood during these unprecedented times, and shares an excerpt from Momspeak. Read on below.

 

These may be the best of times and the worst of times

 

It’s the best of times because a pandemic the intensity of which they say is still to come has already caused the human race, every single human being on the planet, to take stock, in different ways, of their lives, their selves, their pasts, presents, and futures.

It’s the worst of times because a pandemic, the intensity of which they say is still to come, has already crippled nations, it’ peoples, its leaders, its economies, claiming lives by the millions, affecting many more. The uncertainty is a never before experienced event for all of humanity.

The uncertainty has caused a never before experienced event of togetherness. As always, even with this global health crisis worsening by the day, perspective is everything. And there’s no other experience that works wonders for putting things into perspective – by first shattering and then reshaping it – than motherhood. Right from carrying the life inside her to birthing, going onto watch her grow, shaping what she can, and above all, letting her go, for she has to ultimately forge her path in the world, a mother’s only lesson is one in perspective.

Thoughts I gathered on this lesson holds me in stead during these best and worst of times – it asks of me to turn the worst of times into the best. I explored them deeply in the chapter titled Letting Go, in my new book Momspeak, and On Mother’s Day today, I’d like to share them with you.

The letting go has to do with the future too, and a preparation, affirmation, acknowledgement of it. We all know we’re going to die, but do we ever mindfully contemplate a world where we have ceased to exist? Nisha, mother to Nakul and Neel, voices this, but she poses a string of fun questions to me, ‘Like, have you ever thought how one day your daughter might be a super-famous pop singer and you will become the famous X ki maa? And then you’ll be a Wikipedia entry when you’re dead? What does that mean?’ Even as I reel from Nisha’s clairvoyant probing—how does she know about Ahaana’s predilection and penchant for crooning Ariana Grande songs?—she goes all existential, but in a good way, ‘It’s a deep, changing the centre of the universe, kind of truth. Genetically, sure, it’s a perpetuation of your pool. But, for all practical purposes, they’re a memento mori—a symbol of your death, your mortality—from the moment they are born. And really, nothing else.’ When they say birth and death are intrinsically intertwined, this is what it means for the mother who has done the birthing business—not only is the certainty of death a given for the one who has just been born, the mother, in her near-death experience of giving birth, is also, in effect, that much closer to it. This universal truth draws attention to itself bang in the middle of her giving life. (…) It is up to us to seek the affirmation inherent in it then, because letting go does not mean you do not care. Oh no. There is much too much building and shaping and crafting and moulding to be done here, with a lot of care. Oh yes. It is, in some sense, an ultimate letting go, because you have made a bid for reaching out to the universe.


Read the many funny, bittersweet stories of motherhood in Pooja Pande’s Momspeak. Get the book here.

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