Handling career, parenting, social life, womanhood, and family commitments means juggling all the balls 24*7. Add to that peer pressure, not from your colleagues but the mommy friends you have gained by admitting your child to a ‘playschool with a difference’ in a classy and posh neighborhood, you are right amidst a saucy mix of lies, self-created situations and chaos. But not all chaos is bad.
‘Mom in the City’ is a book that has brought mommy-lit genre in India i.e. books related to motherhood, bringing up a child, pregnancy, all things mommy but with strong shades of chick-lit. So I would say a chick-lit adjusted to the taste buds of young mommies. The good part about this book is that the simple tips and advices about tackling little kids are neatly wrapped in good humored sentences without making them sound preachy or even as advices. They just pop in and out of the narrative naturally, helping the story move forward and the young moms gaining a perspective or two. But you know what they say about parenting – nothing teaches you as much as the little monster himself, ok not monster for the mushy mommy types who might take it to the heart.
So is the case with Iravati who is a publishing industry professional, and a single mom trying to pick up the threads of her life in a new city, Delhi where she has moved to from California. To fit into the social norms and social circle of the perfectly manicured moms, she weaves a lie. How this lie takes a life and how this single mother walks on these tight ropes of internal tussles, mothering, desires and professional commitments is what this story is all about.
True to the genre
The moments that stand out are the ones between Ira and her son Abhi. The interactions, the emotional moments, the tantrums are what all mothers or all parents can relate to. The balancing act of Ira between parenting and the career goals is honest; every working woman goes through these conflicts. The priorities have to be set and re-set every second. To remain true to the idea of chick-lit, the story is peppered with lots of high heels, fancy wardrobes, and animated discussions that lead to few good laughs. The parenting pitfalls are real; the need to be accepted is justified after the sudden abandonment by her husband. The struggle of coming to terms with the decision and the utter helplessness that follows also takes you in as a reader. The story though is not of helplessness but is of working your way out of it. Some characters like that of an old woman Ira meets outside her son’s school shouts of the loneliness the big cities bring.
Most characters, however, are stereotypical. Delhi high life speckled with shallow but shiny personalities brings out the superficiality but at the same time makes it look a little fabricated. Having shades of grey is perfectly acceptable because all of us have them in higher or lower proportions but the character assassination of the main rival at the end seems unnecessary. When the dashing college buddy, Vasu walks back into Ira’s life, whom she loved in college, but she was only a friend to him, it gives you a feeling of déjà vu. I don’t think I have to tell you which movie it reminded me of. The romantic angle didn’t quite work for me. It could be due to the plot’s predictability. But the mushy moms can still dig the handsome Vasu and his chivalry.
The author has tried to tackle many different issues – loneliness in old age, decision to remain childfree, marital issues, abandonment, societal pressures, fickle friendships, friendships with purpose – through different characters. Some work, some don’t.
The writing is refreshing, the premise is empowering with the protagonist being a single mom. The story is well paced. The style is very simple and conversational which makes you pick up the book. A gossip session with a friend at times. It is a light breezy read which has its emotional moments. With this book, I see mommy-lit making a successful entry in India. The book is what it has set out to be, an entertaining read for the lovers of chick-lit.
Author: Kausalya Saptharishi
Publisher: Random House India
[ The review is commissioned by the author. The views are my own.]