Bookish Witch

A Mother’s Goodbye by Kasturi Patra

Blurb (as on Amazon):

Three siblings in 2010s Kolkata: Avik (17), Mou (16), and Ishaan (8), grapple with their lives when their single mother, Deepa, disappears, leaving behind a note asking them to not look for her.

While Avik and Mou try to take care of Ishaan, earn a living, and not get caught by authorities, they also try to put together pieces of the puzzle to figure out the woman who was their mother and the mystery behind her disappearance.

While struggling with these issues, the teenagers find love, experience heartbreak, and come to terms with some of their own deeper truths.

What if society’s construct of the image of an all-sacrificing mother is skewed?

Can a woman want more than her identities of a daughter, a wife, and a mother?

Can we love and accept our parents even if they’re deeply flawed humans with their own dreams and desires?

Genre: Fiction/Family Drama

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback

Pages: 202


  • Kindle eBook: 65 INR/$1.30
  • Paperback: 225 INR/$7.90

My Ratings: 4.9/5

Avik (17), Mou (15), and Ishaan (8) are three children whose lives turn upside down one day. Their mother, Deepa, abandons them and disappears, leaving them to fend for themselves. As the now adults, Avik and Mou, try hard to keep Ishaan appeased while also trying to keep this whole thing a secret, they learn some surprising as well as unpleasant things about their mother. Is Deepa gone for good from their life though?

Book cover taken from Amazon

What I liked about the book:
-> The best part about this book is that it allows you the freedom to choose whether the characters are right or wrong in their choices. The writer passes no judgment on any characters’ actions. And trust me, they all have their flaws. There are moments when you love a character and the very next moment you are frustrated with them. So, it’s more or less similar to what happens in real life.
-> Another slice-of-life element about this book I really loved is how the characters do not agree with each other all the time. This is like a mirror of our own relationships with all our loved ones. Though we disagree with our parents, siblings, and friends, we love each other and co-exist.
-> The teenagers, their actions and choices, are a reflection of the young generation today, making the book contemporary and relatable.
-> It makes us wonder about how we define and see people around us, especially women and mothers, through a single focal point and only through their roles around us. Women are so much more than just mothers and caregivers, and this book points it out beautifully.
-> The side characters like Lalita aunty (Deepa’s friend), Rishi ( Mou’s newfound love interest) and
Sohini (Ishaan’s class teacher), look out for the troubled kids and show support in their own way. This somewhere as a reader, makes you feel happy that such people exist in a world we generally believe to be cruel and judgmental.
-> The entire book is a soul-stirring read that asks umpteen uncomfortable questions, right from the darker side of motherhood to the difficulties of figuring out one’s sexuality.
-> The story is told from PoV of both children Avik and Mou. The children- 17-year-old Avik, 16 yr old Mou, and 8-year-old Ishaan have their own journeys where each one is forced to grow up too soon in their own ways. Their bonding is heartwarming and heart-wrenching at the same time. The understanding and warmth between Avik and Mou is especially mention worthy because it reminds you of your own bittersweet relationships with your siblings.
-> Kolkata has been described and talked about in great detail, making the city as much a part of the story as all its characters.

What I did not like about the book:
I found Ishaan’s childishness a little unbelievable because I have taught and been around 8-year-olds and most of them are more mature than what Ishaan is shown to be.
-> After about 70% of the book, you might start wondering where the story is headed because it tends to become monotonous.

Quotable quotes:
-> Though the supermarket catered to all their other needs, people still preferred buying perishables from a market-place that didn’t keep it frozen for days.
-> Teenagers tend to think of their parents as necessary evils that they somehow have to endure till they become adults.
-> Sometimes, life makes you do things you never imagined you were capable of doing.
-> But life doesn’t listen to excuses. Either you give up or you go on. Giving up meant that we would be separated. So, the only option was to maintain normalcy.
-> Who else could I share my dark secrets with, other than someone who bore the same set of misfortune as I did?
-> They must have spent a fortune on the interior decoration. And yet, all the money in the world hadn’t been able to drive out the death-like-chill and the stone-cold-loneliness that you felt once you stepped inside the house.
-> It seemed that aesthetics played a bigger role in rich people’s living space than the comfort of its inmates.
-> We all are trying so hard to connect with others who’d understand us, who’d accept us. Instead of being like islands, at risk of submerging in a sea of darkness, isn’t it better to kick your ego to the curb and actually reach out to people who care?
-> Sometimes, doing what we want to do, can be extremely selfish. We also need to take the needs of our closest ones into account.
-> Even while other countries are legalising gay marriages and fighting for the rights of queers, our country remains in the dark, in a cobwebbed corner of ignorance.
-> It’s not okay to make fun of others.
-> ‘Some poetry just seems to touch me deeply somewhere and I can’t quite understand why…’
‘That’s how one should feel about poetry, something moves inside you, and you’re left wondering did this actually happen, or was it a figment of your imagination?’
-> Every artist feels that way. That’s the beauty of creating art; it never leaves the artist satisfied.
-> Treating a person with respect hardly deserves accolades.
-> Some people are cruel because they don’t know any better.
-> I realized that depending on people wasn’t the best idea for an escape.
-> ‘In their own weird ways, they show that they care for us. We should be thankful that we got parents who, though sometimes a pain in the wrong places, love us so much that we are their first priorities. Think about all those children without parents or with parents who don’t care about them.’
‘I’ve not come across parents who don’t obsess about their children. At least, not Indian parents. Yes, we should be grateful. But should the price for our gratitude be our own happiness?’
-> Being a dusky woman is akin to committing a crime in India.
-> We can feel hatred and love for the same person at the same time.
-> Holding tightly to our opinions is the sign of an egotistical mind.
-> If a book appeals to you, how does it matter who it is meant for?
-> ‘These days, I’m reading a lot of young adult books based on real life issues.’
‘I’m going to check out some of the young adult books. I have so far been biased towards the genre. After reading a few that leaned towards romance and illnesses, I realized that most of them involved sappy plots where the hero and heroine love each other too much, but one of them dies in the end.’ ‘Oh, no, no. Not at all. There are many other issues being covered in this genre these days—starting from racism to classism to feminism to eco-consciousness—you’ll find all pertinent issues being covered under this category.’
-> There are a lot of things about a person that we fail to decipher on the surface. Even when they are some of the people closest to us.
-> Sometimes, kids can be extremely perceptive. In fact, they understand more than we give them credit for. Some children throw tantrums at the slightest sign of distress, but more worrying are those who simply clam up…
-> When your entire life has been lived for others, you might want a way out, despite loving the people in your life to bits.
-> It was indeed a hell of a job to put others before yourself.
-> It was ironical how as a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up. Be careful of what you wish for. Now someone seemed to be pushing me down a precipice into an unknown land of adulthood, and I wished that I could go back to my stupid childhood problems.
-> Do you ever get this feeling that some days just didn’t happen? Like an early morning pleasant dream, the day slipped by before you could even get a chance to savour them completely?
-> Strange, how in a few months’ time, I had lost people whom I considered to be my lifelong friends, and instead gained an unlikely set of new friends.
-> After all, she was so much more than just our Ma. Isn’t every mother that way? We assume they’re just these generic lumps of women steeped in the sacrificial essence of motherhood, but I wonder how many fragrances are hidden beneath that strong scent, waiting to be released? These women are such beautifully complex creatures and we reduce them to the role of just being our mothers.
-> Be proud of your beauty. Don’t be afraid to flaunt your wonderful self. Just because some people don’t understand it, doesn’t make you any less beautiful!
-> Women feel terribly lonely despite having kids, as they don’t fulfil their need for companionship.

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