Having read so much about reluctant politicians and reluctant Prime Ministers it does come as a bomb-shell that a journalist and now author Zehra Naqvi tells us that motherhood is not always an elevating, blessed,out of the world experience.

But having read through this sincere,first hand,honest account of the young writer, written in a racy style, one starts wondering why no one thought of coming out with a book on the subject before.

What came more as a surprise was that at a lively seminar on the launch of 'The Reluctant Mother' at the India International Centre attended by academicians, writers, psychiatrists and NGOs, the audience enthusiastically resonated with the sentiments of the author.That was quite a revelation.

Simply put, the book is all about a 23 plus journalist happily getting married to her chosen man only to realize the 'baggage' that essentially comes with marriage.

Within a year actually,within a month or two of every marriage in India, with love or without love, there are loaded questions from in-laws and out-laws and neighbours 'What Next' and 'When' and 'Is everything normal'.

And God forbid if the newly wed couple announces that they were not in a hurry to expand their family there are well-meaning warnings from the all knowing well wishers " "You know so and so delayed it and they never had a child.Be very carefully Beta."

The young author argues powerfully through the 304 pages of the book that the whole purpose of marriage is not procreation or carrying the name of the family forward.And all of us who are parents and grandparents will agree that it's not always true that the child like an angel solves all problems and spreads joy all around.

But the author goes further and does the unthinkable.She tells us convincingly step by step from her own experience that the over-glorified motherhood was no less than martyrdom and after reading the book one is tempted to ask 'why did no one articulate this thought earlier'.

In her lively and catchy style Naqvi gives a date-wise sequence of how her whole world turns shaky as she goes through those symptoms of nausea,throwing up in the office,giving up on her favourite trip to the Lit Fest in Rajasthan and going for those 'embarrassing' check ups with her gynecologist.

Of course, those so-called 'happy news' physical check-ups are physically embarrassing but the glorified mother has to come out smiling.

It is more so when the bride is young,almost like a Balika Vadhu as in this case, getting married to her Prince Charming, dreaming of romantic dinners,exotic vacations and enjoying life realising that all that would have to wait for a little while as a new life is going to add joy to their life.

She makes a lot of unthinkable statements such as,"I did not immediately fall in love with my son" as the newborn is brought to her.

As she explained at the seminar "It's not that this young mother hates children. It's just that it happened without planning."

And she is not blaming her husband for it but rather blames herself why she was not prepared for it when it happened.Slowly of course all is well with the son and the family but the trauma of the pregnancy has left her scarred enough to prompt this book.

However what really was surprising was that the voices in the dark from the audience, mostly women, started raising questions as to why pregnancy and motherhood are considered 'normal'.It did create giggles and snide comments from others more normal than these abnormal ones.

One of the guests on the panel went on to assert that even after being a mother of a 14 year old son she did not consider motherhood a very exalted experience. Which means that it is not just the first experience of pregnancy which is traumatic, the second one is no less scary.

The young author Zehra Naqvi has created a storm with her very first book and looks like it could turn out as one of the best sellers of 2021.

The Reluctant Mother
Zehra Naqvi
Publisher-Hay House Publishers