An immense courage to publish once own life in printed words for the world to read, review, love and critic.
Book Title: From Son to Stranger – Coping with Loneliness
Author name: Ritu Lalit
My Ratings: 5/5
About the Book
This non- fiction is a heart touching tale of a mother’s relationship with her estranged elder son. It is a tale of a mother mourning the loss of a living child. Her raw emotions are painted all over the book be it sadness, denial or helplessness that brings our emotions so realistic and profoundly linked to her life and other estranged ones. This book started as a journal in mind, with unsent letters written to her estranged son and the countless entries of her conversations with other abandoned and estranged parents.
The only analogy that comes to mind is a dry twig in a planter which you kept watering in hope that miraculously the plant would sprout green shoots and become whole again..
About the Author:
Born in 1964 at Delhi, India. She is based in Faridabad. She is ‘a corporate slave turned fiction writer’. Though, I’d like to call her a ‘rebellious fighter’! A single mother that has two children. This curvaceous woman is not just lovely in eyes, she is an epitome of different shades of hardened life. She is a fiction writer. Nevertheless, I loved her non-fiction more, though I can’t compare with any of her works as I haven’t read. Her most well-known book is Wrong for the Right Reasons where the book deals with realistic theme of her life as a single mother and raising her children in India today.
She is a single mother having two sons and their wives. One son being estranged and another one affectionate warm hearted. This I got to know from her book, “From Son To Stranger: Coping with Loneliness” otherwise you won’t know this little bit about her.
She had a patriarchal father (where most of us have), a not-so-sweet mother, and a departed younger brother. She often changed schools as her father had transferrable jobs. She spend most of her childhood in North Eastern area of India. She is a gold medalist post graduate in English Literature.
She has five fiction out in the market – A Bowlful of Butterflies, HILAWI, Chakra: Chronicles of the Witch Way, Wrong – for the Right Reasons and His Father’s Mistress. Her first single non-fiction is “From Son To Stranger: Coping with Loneliness”
“We’re human and sometimes being human means tears and losses”- Ritu Lalit
My Review and Reflections
Family – One of life’s greatest blessing. The ones not of just bloody connections but one who accepts you for who you are and does anything to see you smile and loves you no matter what. A senile connection that never dies. A mother- child bond is the purest form of relationship as it is independent of love, reasons can’t weaken it and hate cannot destroy it.
Mothers make a man out of a boy, while sons always want to retain their boyhood in front of their mothers.
With constant turmoil to publish or not-to-publish a book about her estranged son, there is a possibility of a never coming back son. To which her younger son with a heaving heart says, “If he wants his brother and mother, he will come back, book or no book.” As I said, this book is a rollercoaster of true emotions. Some emotions surfacing our hearts with fear, guilt and pain. Fear of living a life without parents. Guilt of the times we made our parents miserable and pain of experiencing what Ritu felt. However, this book isn’t a depressing story, but more of acceptance to her grievances and loss of a living son. It’s more of a mature mind expressing her heart-felt pain in words grips our reader’s soul.
Not in every case. But, it’s true, “the kids won the power and given their lack of maturity, they’re not going to be nice when they use it against you.” Ritu assures by saying addingly, “kids will use you time again and again. It will begin when they decide whom to live with until the treat of estrangement becomes a routine”.
It’s true parents meet their adult children as infants whose eyes lit up with blind adoration. Remembering them as toddlers who wanted to kiss their skinned knees and make them well again. Ritu recounts her miseries by gazing through baby albums and remembers her son as a happy child with a broody intense adult.
She meets Maya, “The divine illusion” on one of her aimless drives. She is from the village and has never seen the outside world. Her sons bought her to visit Akshardham temple which she never gets to see, leaves her on street with her bundle. Her thumb was freshly stained with blue ink with all her property and bank balance robbed by her sons. Even parent becomes a victim too.
It’s true in today’s materialistic world with what Ritu says, “The only time adult children seem happy to see their parents is when they want to enlist unpaid babysitting services for their children and pets, or when they want to borrow free money”. Parents give in with a blink of eye when it comes for their children which they may not do for their own siblings or relatives. Undoubtedly, they become the money providers for their costly affairs. “Gone are the days when parents were authority figures,” she says, “now the children of today decides where the family goes for vacation and some families have votes on how the family spends the money” – Even the society needs to be blamed and not just point fingers to parenting or family values.
“No one grows when they have everything they need in life. One only grows when faced with challenges”
I admire and respect her determination to find a solution to her miserable nature which began her detailed research in form of questionnaires, meeting various affected ones in old aged homes and interviewing abandoned and estranged parents. She describes the stages of grief, body map of emotions and solutions from expertise and some of her remedies tried and tested. She also seeks spirituality in form of Satori and Kensho, the hardwork after breakthrough.She talks about Meditation as a tool to emotional healing which she recommends has helped her lot.
She means estranged, ‘as not feeling a part of your adult child’s life’. All feelings like abused, neglected, discarded, rejected and betrayed. This book is a cognition of journal entries, her insights, remedies from experts and short strands of experiences of real people.
“There is a certain stigma, a kind of embarrassment. No one wants to admit that such places exist, just like no wants to admit that people abandon their aged parents.”
Ritu meets this one lady named Sehra, at the pavement in Delhi-Faridabad border with her limbs twisted as arthritis. She lives in a hospice where situations are grim and her medical treatments are expensive. Sehra still insists that she wasn’t abandoned.
‘I got lost, They must be wondering where I am’
This made me teary-eyed and so heart wrecking. In the finale of the book, there is this most touching unsent letter, written in the voice of a trembling mother to her son – beautifully encapturing the reader’s soul. The inner me hopes, ‘she moves on and lives in peace with her younger one and wife. Hoping she meets her elder son and makes peace as well. Hopefully, Time shall reveal.’
If I talk about this book more, It shall spoil the mood of you reading her words. As said, the book is about a fighter going through estrangement, various shades of womanhood from single mother managing her family and expenses including paying the debts of her sons educational loans to the denial of losing her living elder son with helplessness, blame, guilt, shame, sadness, fears, self-worth questioned, apathy, acceptance, meditation, venting and understanding. Not just estrangement. It is also an inspirational one by acknowledging the significance of each relationship and their meanings in our lives.
Be Better, Not Bitter
As a part of Mother’s day, I thought of this book to review. But I didn’t finish reading it fast within a day, took two days – I’d suggest you to read this amazing non-fiction piece of Ritu Lalit if you’re okay in experiencing emotions vividly. It’s a brilliant creation that took her years to pen down her stages of acceptance and moving on in life. So give it a read, Kikzbee thumbs up!