I’ve known Ritu Lalit for almost as long as I’ve been a blogger – at least 12 years. She’s one strong lady who has no problem telling it like it is! She pretty much lives life on her own terms and is never afraid to express herself. I remember reading her book ‘A Bowlful of Butterflies’ and finding it awesome. When Ritu told me about her latest book, From Son To Stranger, I offered to feature it here.
From Son To Stranger
Here below is a review of the book by another blogger, Tomichan Matheikal.
From Son To Stranger is for parents who are estranged from their children for whatever reason and there is little or no hope for reconciliation.
Parents often think after their children are grown; they are “entitled” to a relationship with them. There is no such entitlement. After estrangement parents are left with guilt, pain and the realization that if there is reconciliation, there will be boundaries and it will be difficult to trust.
From Son to Stranger: Coping with Loneliness, is a poignant account of a mother-son relationship that went sour. What makes it heart-touching is that it is a personal story told in the most candid manner possible.
A mother-child relationship undergoes a lot of changes as the child grows up. There is a natural weaning as the child becomes more and more independent as an individual. There is the rebellion of adolescence in the process. That is followed by the inevitable compromises of the youth. Then comes the mature understanding and acceptance of the adult.
Not every person grows up into that maturity with the ease of a flower blossoming. “We’re human and sometimes being human means tears and loss,” says the author in the introductory chapter. Being human means to err and errors bring tears and loss. What matter are the lessons one should learn from the errors.
Again, few people seem to learn the right lessons. “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,” The world has changed a lot and relationships are also commercialised today like everything else. “Gone are the days when parents were authority figures,” she says, “now we are the ATM cards and providers of … expensive luxuries.” It is a child-centred world that we have forged today. Our psychologists, pedagogues, policy makers and the judiciary, everyone proclaims loud and clear the child’s rights. But no one seems to understand the flip side of the approach: shaping narcissists and bullies. Even parents end up as victims.
The author takes us to vridashrams in the National Capital Region and shows us parents who are dumped there by their own children. Dumped cruelly. Meet Maya, for instance, who was brought to Delhi from her village on the pretext of a pilgrimage to Akshardham temple. She never reached the temple. On the way, their vehicle stopped on the Delhi-Faridabad Highway apparently for the passengers to relieve themselves. Maya found herself left on the highway on the side of which her cloth bundle was left as a metaphor for her situation.
The book is well researched and the author met many estranged parents and saw their pathetic plight in old-age homes. She connected with parents from different walks of life and different economic backgrounds and heard their stories – of being rejected or abandoned by their adult children, in most cases sons; of pain, disbelief and helplessness when faced with this situation; of the failure to move on and being trapped in endless cycles of grief and anger, self-recrimination and blame; of yearning for the love of the adult child and grandchildren; of acceptance of the estrangement and courage to move on. She explains certain models and solutions suggested by well-known psychologists. She also looks at the role of spirituality. Meditation can be of immense help, for example, the book shows how the author derived more than solace from her meditations.
The narrative has the potential to grip the reader. It is not just a straightforward rendition of a tale of estrangement. It is interspersed with the experiences of some real people, solutions suggested by experts, and the journal entries of the author herself. The unsent letters she wrote to her estranged son stipple the narrative touching our hearts in an emotive way. Towards the end of the book, the author shares a profound spiritual experience that she had during her visit to a university in Gandhinagar. This blissful and uplifting experience where she connects with everything around her and experiences the universe as pulsating with love releases her, sets her free from any clinging to the past and reliving it endlessly.
The book ends with a long and final unsent letter that leaves a lingering feeling in the heart of the reader. It is a mother’s recollection of fond memories of her son, of all that he meant to her and still means to her. Very poignant … heartbreaking … heartwarming.
About Ritu Lalit
Ritu Lalit has written five fiction books and one nonfiction. The most well-known of her fiction books Wrong for the Right Reasons deals with the realistic theme of the life of a single mother raising her kids in today’s India. For her first non-fiction she has again picked up a burning topic, of aged parents coping with being rejected by their adult children. A graduate with gold medal in English Literature and a postgraduate in English Literature from Delhi University she is a prolific writer whose short stories have been featured in the NCERT curriculum and in anthologies. She has also won many blogging awards.
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