An open letter to the most important woman in my life. 

Hi Mom, 

I write this letter to you as you sit on the couch watching this really shitty Bollywood rom-com with me and dad, complaining why neither of us is paying attention to the movie. There’s light summer breeze blowing from the balcony right into the room right on your face- you look so beautiful- and my heart is swelling from the quiet happiness of these harmless familial jabs. But as you chide us for not being attentive enough, I laugh at the sheer thought of emotions this letter is going to make you feel.

I remember being 7 and telling you about the boy I used to fight with all day at school. I, then, remember being 10 and finding my afternoon cartoons more interesting than our conversations. I also remember being 13 and absolutely hating talking about myself because you just didn’t seem to understand what I was saying and then I remember being 16 and taking baby steps towards understanding you- and understanding us. 

If you ask anyone about what defined our relationship, they’d say our arguments. And honestly, they’d be right. If there has been one constant throughout the years as I’ve grown up, it is the way I’ve never stopped arguing with you. As an 8-year-old, it used to be about dal and playtimes. As a 19-year-old, it’s about my lazy routines and your constant nagging. despite how much they exasperate me at times, it is these arguments that have made me what I am today; they remind me I shouldn’t settle for less and speak my mind. There’s no way I would be able to do that without them. You know (you really do know) I suffer from a lack of ability to verbalize my emotions properly- I’d rather shut them down and never talk about it. An ability I’ve inherited from dad, it is these arguments with you that have gently made it easier for me to speak freely. 

I know it has been very hard to understand me when I was younger, and I am so sorry about that. I remember being 14 and so angry at you for not getting me- In hindsight, I realize I was growing and changing too fast to understand these changes myself, there’s absolutely no way you could’ve understood me. I also remember being so jealous- your conversations with my elder cousins were full of comfort and understanding- something I yearned to be a part of. But as I wasted my early adolescence being angry at you, I forgot somewhere I needed to understand you too. 

Funnily enough, for as much as you scold me and I defy you, you’ve never scolded me about the important things- you’ve always let me arrive at my own conclusion (after passing some disappointed looks, which, to be honest, are fair enough) and been there for me as I correct those. And it is always these moments that make my heart ache with the desire to make you and dad proud of me. Since I could never thank you verbally for raising me the way you do, it is only by my actions I can assure you that I really am grateful for how you’ve raised me. 

I see your glimpses in me more as I grow up- in the way I go all out for people I love like you, the way I deeply prioritize my emotions over everything else, the way I like everything organized a certain way (even if it is not the way you want) and the way my cheekbones sit on my face. I see your glimpses in me in all these little moments of my life and I can never truly think what to make of them. These days though, I’ve been feeling so much happier and prouder about them. 

Now, as I sit in front of you at 19 at this very moment, it seems you’ve moved on from the rom-com and are now describing your and dad’s marriage story. There’s nothing more adorable than listening to you talk about it and there’s nothing warmer than the knowledge that I finally get to be on the receiving end. Despite all my complaints, and our argument today morning, I know we understand each other so much better by now, and it feels great. 

Mom, thank you for being the person you are. Thank you for letting me be the person I am. And of course, all of that amazing food.


Your (very annoying) daughter

Featured Image Credits: Dhaka Tribune

Satviki Sanjay

[email protected] 


Three lakh women die from issues in pregnancy and childbirth. So why the ignorance and indifference towards this huge loss to a family?

World Health Organisation (WHO) defines maternal death as the death of a woman while pregnant, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy. Maternal mortality rate is the number of registered maternal deaths due to birth or pregnancy related complications per 100,000 registered live births. In a world with almost 4 billion women, this issue is touching our lives in one way or the other, yet we do not talk about it as much as we should.

People are not equipped with the knowledge they need, especially in a country like India, to understand the gravity of the issue. This often begins and ends at being a “women’s issue”. Three lakh women, all over the world, die each year from problems in pregnancy and childbirth. About 700 women die each year in the United States alone, while 830 women die each day worldwide, as reported by WHO. The chances of dying during pregnancy, in some places, are 1 out of 15.
I can recall workshops being held at schools regarding menstruation, pregnancy and related ideas only attended by girls, while boys stood outside waiting to hear what this ‘forbidden fruit’ was. Firstly, why should this just be restricted to them when each and everyone is impacted by it?

Secondly, the knowledge provided to the students is inadequate.Several factors can lead to maternal mortality. The first being age, where women below the age of 20, and above 35 are at risk. Socio-economic status in the society is another factor. Where poor and illiterate individuals do not have access to education, healthcare, proper nutrition, guidance, and care are at risk of death during pregnancy. Women are also placed on a lower pedestal and viewed as subordinate, which can be a reason for not being given adequate support during their most important time. The societal pressure of bearing a male child also adds a strain on the emotional and mental health. Unplanned babies, poor sanitation and hygiene facilities,infections, and other factors can also increase the risk. Hypertensive disorders are responsible for 14% pregnancy related deaths, pulmonary embolism causes 3% of the deaths, and 10% women die due to direct complications. Yet, we are not aware of these statistics. To understand the core issues, the world needs to move beyond books like ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’.
The Special Bulletin of Maternal Mortality in India by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in June 2018 stated that among the southern states, the decline has been from 93 to 77 and 115 to 83 in others. As reported by the WHO, factors like access to quality healthcare, state subsidised financing, mitigation of social determinants, and positive engagement between public and private healthcare providers has helped India in reducing MMR by 77% in 2016.
The death of a mother is tragic, with a devastating effect on the families. Though the MMR has witnessed a decline, it is important to educate the masses of such prevalent issues. Proper check-ups during the pregnancy and a nutritious diet is a must for both the mother and the baby.

Feature Image Credits: Saubhagya Saxena for DU Beat.

Shivani Dadhwal

 [email protected]

Google Search: Mothers’ Day 2014 

This was the first thing I did when I was asked to write this piece a few days back. It is demeaning on my part and shamefully it has been the same in the years gone by. In nineteen years of this all-credits-to-my-maa life, there must have been only five such times, when I was aware about the actual date and I just hugged my mom and said, “Happy Mothers’ Day”. For all the other times, a Complan advertisement on television made me realize about this western festival of motherhood, a day or two later when in the end it said, “Celebrating the spirit of a mother. Happy Mothers’ Day.”
The only explanation I could give to her about this (who herself used to get this news from the idiot box) was that, “Oh, shit! I forgot. But Maa, it  feels as though this day falls twice or thrice a year.”

And she would just say nothing.

Google Search Result: 11th May 2014

I guess around 70% of people (or more) reading this must not be aware about Mother’s Day, just like me. A small percentage of these must have rushed to the kitchen (yeah,that’s where you are most likely to find her) by now or dialed ‘Mom’, ‘Mumma’ or the lame ones like  ‘Birth Giver’, ‘Headquarters’ or ‘Hitler’, as some people choose to save their mother’s contact on their phones.

Getting an Archie’s card because you couldn’t make one on your own or ordering a cake, genuinely won’t add much flavour to her life. Giving her explanations that you had an exam and you forgot or telling her that you thought it is was in the next week, won’t make her feel better. The day that never comes twice or thrice a year asks you to just spend a little time with her, maybe rest your head in her lap or just cook something for her and share a memorable warm moment of togetherness.

Image Courtesy: www.behance.net (A sketch by Amitabh Barretto)

But everyone isn’t that lucky to do so. I am not. The fact that I stay away from my home, makes me feel that I am detaching away from her. I’ve grown up  and I probably have a bunch of work to do rather than keep her in my mind. There are thousands here who call their mother up just twice a week, and a few like me who dial her number after dinner every night. But why is it that our conversation lasts only for a minute or so? Why is it that being miles away, we don’t have much to talk about? And, “Aur batao, khaana kha liya?” is the most common question?

What else can we talk about? As the survivors of the new generation, we are too lazy to tell the lady there about what happened in our school, college or at work. We shout at her, ask her to leave our room, whine about her keeping our things in place, curse her for the food being not of our choice, abuse her and even make her cry at times.

We might forget this often, but we’re talking about the person who kept us in her womb for almost 275 days. She has tolerated all our kicks even when certainly ‘all was not well’. She has posed while holding us for pictures when Dad used to click with one of those that huge old fashioned cameras. She has even lied to him for us; even fought with him. But we’ve barely done anything in return. The scope boils down to almost nothing when our mothers aren’t on Whatsapp because we are too cool to interact with someone who’s not on that one social media application.

Walking down the lanes of the campus I usually wonder if it was just her food that makes people feel ‘homesick’ here? I guess it is. Because eating dal and aalo in four-division Gurudwara thalis isn’t that pleasing to us. I also remember the times, when I used to walk around the colony with her, just a few years back. The only fact that her kiss on our face, is now called a peck, because a kiss has a  altogether different meaning, shows how much we have changed, and how much time has changed. My mother tells me, that she will remain my mother even if I have my grandchildren playing around me. She tells me that time can change, but this fact just cannot.

I still haven’t wished her. I’m wondering how to do so.

‘While these thoughts go around my mind;
I still wonder how to express;
Today on the day, for all wrong I have done;
I still wonder how to confess.
The day is for her; but I have other things to do;
Wait. One day I will be a victim too.’
Image Courtesy: www.kmberggren.com

So please don’t talk to her in rush and disconnect saying that  you need to study whereas you’re actually in the middle of a ‘QuizUp’ game with a friend. Do not miss her only for the food. Do not be out with friends when she needs you with her. Do not shout on her just because one thing went wrong. The fact that my mother has already started complaining about me being different from who I was in school, is something that forces me to think. She tells me that I don’t have time for her now and other people have taken her place in my life. I sometimes want to tell her, that it is not the way she thinks it is. That she is irreplaceable, unforgettable, a buffer stock of hope, a melody of good times, a comrade of the bad ones! But then how should I explain all that? I have nothing to say.

I want to tell her that it is funny how she strikes my mind at any time of the day. Sometimes sitting in the classroom, I realise that the teacher who’s scribbling on the blackboard is wearing a salwar-suit similar to the one my Dad and I got for Mom. I miss my Mom when I see the lady at the locality general store moving her hand through her son’s hair and telling him to study, as he is in Class X now. These little things. Things that I can relate to.

Anyway, I need to wind up and call ‘Maa :)!’ (that’s  how I have saved her number and that is all I could do), and you should, too. Because, after all, mothers are special, the day is special,  and it comes only every second Sunday of May, and that is certainly not twice or thrice a year!

Ending this piece just like the advertisement- Celebrating the spirit of mothers. Happy Mother’s Day.

Featured image credits: www.eddycrosby.com