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Book Review: Mamaji by Elisheba Haqq

Release date: October 2020

Mamaji  by Elisheba Haqq, is a sometimes heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting memoir about self-discovery and a child’s journey from babyhood to being an adult without the guiding influence of a mother.

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The loss of her mother at 3 years old provides a poignant counterpoint to the love and laughter that fills Elisheba’s life from her six older siblings. The family have moved to Minnesota from India, and the children find it hard to fit in at school. A year after Mamaji dies, her father marries again and the children have a new stepmother in their lives. Sadly, she is not much interested in taking over the role of mother, appearing disinterested and selfish. The children of the family have a roof over their heads, but very little else and there is no love and affection for the children, apart from the love they have for each other.

Growing up without a Mother

Elisheba tells the story from her own point of view, honestly acknowledging her inability at 3 to understand what has happened, throughout her school years where she must try to fit into a school where she is an outsider, and into college and marriage, eventually having children of her own. Throughout the book, she tries her best to get on with her stepmother and maintain her relationship with her father. When Elisheba is able to visit Chandigarh, the place where her parents had spent their early married years and talk to relatives, she is able to find remnants of her mother and answers to the many questions that she has had. The book is filled with family photographs, which are memories of happy times.

The strength of a mother’s love for her daughter and that of a daughter for her mother, will stay with you long after you have closed this book.

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