Diddi: My Mother's Voice
Perhaps because we called our mother Diddi, elder sister, our relationship with her was always somewhat ambivalent. More than a mother she was for us a difficult sibling, an eccentric, much older sister who belonged to a different generation. Attempting to unravel the enigma that was her mother, Ira Pande trawls through her writings to recall the life and times of a mother who was also a household name as Shivani, novelist, storyteller and columnist. In the process she discovers a rich and colourful cast ranging from family retainers, grandmothers and aunts to neighbours, friends and fictional characters. Built around the deep ties between mothers and daughters, Diddi salutes the often decadent but highly literate members of a family that produced both eccentrics and brilliant writers. Deftly dovetailing fiction and memoir, with brilliant translations of Shivani s own stories taking the narrative forward in several places, the book is also a record of what happened to the proud Brahmin families of Kumaon when the old feudal order vanished and joint families broke up into nuclear units. A fascinating experiment in the genre of the biography-novel, Diddi blurs the boundaries between history and fiction to create an intensely personal work that has universal resonance.
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