Sunday, May 25, 2014


A mother's work, as has been said so often, is never done.

Every May, I begin full of joy and eagerness: a whole month of being with the daughters, planning and doing a whole lot of things in the summer vacation. This month, we went for swimming classes, Monday to Friday early morning. Then we sat down together, did home lessons in school subjects and also learnt Bengali.....

Plus, we went to workshops at various museums (on interesting topics like mapmaking and fossils), went to watch plays at Prithvi, movies at nearby theatres, went for some shopping, as well as for walks along the seafronts when the FIL came to visit.

All this, plus the spring-cleaning. Gave away old books and clothes, cleaned (some of) the cupboards, aired the (never-worn) sarees, and did the usual daily bits of cooking, cleaning, shopping.

And the 'my work'?

At the moment, that amounts to:

1. writing an article for a national journal on mom-blogs.
2. writing an article for an international e-journal on filmi mothers.
3. writing a chapter on food-blogs for a book.
4. editing and commentating on an e-book on the history of Bengal.
5. going through some of the texts that I mean to study for my Ph.D.

1, 2, 3 and 4 are all piling up, with different but definitely approaching deadlines. I am yet to panic, but the pressure is building up.

It's easy to push back me-work till that panic stage, but the motherwork cannot be, so the balance always gets tilted that way, does it not?

Do I hate the panic, or do I need it to push me into that 'finish my work' mode?

May will tell....

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Why is it that I feel so guilty for devoting time to research? I think I will sit down and work on something, and then I keep postponing it throughout the day because of housework, or cooking, or because of some urgent, pressing need to ensure that my children have done their studies well and thoroughly.

My research is like late night coffee - always after dinner, after putting the kids to bed, after taking out and arranging things (bag, breakfast stuff, etc.) ready for the next (early) morning, lingering on till hours after midnight, lingering on in the dark circles under my eyes, and in the nameless irritations that plague me through the day/s when I have not slept well during the night/s.

And this time, the coinicidence of my daughter's relatively average performance in the semster exam in many subjects coming at the same time as the start of my doctoral proposal has not helped matters any.

I feel crushed by some awful sense of guilt, all the more depressing because I alone cannot lift this fog of misery (my daughter has to do her bit to study more and do her bit), because I cannot help but feel that perhaps I should have sat with her  more (instead of telling her to study on her own), because I cannot push away the feeling that it is partially my fault.

So, so, so....

The rocky road seems bleaker.....

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Which I Talk About How It All Began

I am a mother (of two daughters). I am also a teaching professional (an assistant professor). And now, I am embarking on a journey as a researcher, trying to do my doctoral thesis on, what else but, mothering.

There is a backstory to the choice of this subject. Many many years ago, when I was fresh into the teaching profession (back in Kolkata), I had enrolled for my M.Phil course, because that was what sincere post-graduates who want a career in academics did. After a few lectures, I discovered I was pregnant. (No, the classes were not to blame). It was a conscious choice, a welcome arrival. But what with the job and the home and the extra time spent on the travelling and studying, it meant Goodbye M.Phil.

A few years later, when my elder daughter was of school-going age, the supine researcher in me raised its head again. Since I have display a marked abhorrence to any subject that does not intererst me, I decided to go ahead with a topic I loved. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books. I envisioned hours of poring minutely over those lazy-paced mysteries, with a few forays on the side into the bewildering depths of theories of feminism and popular crime fiction. One of my University professors generously agreed to be my guide.

But then again, circumstances disposed otherwise. My husband got transferred to Mumbai, and I promptly got pregnant all over again. Again, it was a willing and self-chosen path.

This time around, I am forty, and am not planning to get pregnant again. And I have changed the area of my research. Having waded through the toils and spoils of motherhood for more than a decade, and having my earlier research attempts foiled by pregnancies, I have now decided, boldly, intrepidly, and somewhat fatalistically, to 'sleep with the enemy', and will now try to start (and continue and complete) research on mothering narratives in India.

My daughters are happy because I told them that I have once again become a student like them, but I think they would have preferred it if I had tests and assessments and class teachers, the whole school jingbang.....