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Constructing the (M)other

Narratives of Disability, Motherhood, and the Politics of «Normal»


Edited By Priya Lalvani

Constructing the (M)other is a collection of personal narratives about motherhood in the context of a society in which disability holds a stigmatized position. From multiple vantage points, these autoethnographies reveal how ableist beliefs about disability are institutionally upheld and reified. Collectively they seek to call attention to a patriarchal surveillance of mothering, challenge the trope of the good mother, and dismantle the constructed hierarchy of acceptable children. The stories contained in this volume are counter-narratives of resistance—they are the devices through which mothers push back. Rejecting notions of the otherness of their children, in these essays, mothers negotiate their identities and claim access to the category of normative motherhood. Readers are likely to experience dissonance, have their assumptions about disability challenged, and find their parameters of normalcy transformed.

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Chapter Twelve: Karma, Dogma, and the Perfect Child (Monika Tiwari)


chapter 12

Karma, Dogma, and the Perfect Child

Monika Tiwari

Starry-eyed, secretly dreaming of a future life with a perfect husband and perfect children, I was a young girl living in the beautiful valley of Dehradun in India—“Doon” as the locals fondly call it, a small paradise at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain ranges. It remains one the most sought after destinations for tourists because of its pleasant climate, picturesque landscapes and easy proximity to Mussourie (the “queen of hills”), Haridwar (a religious pilgrimage destination), and Rishikesh (the land of yogis and ashrams). Life in Doon was charming and peaceful, untouched by the hustle and bustle of city life; surrounded by lush forests and natural springs and brooks, it was the fascination of most people. My reminiscences of Doon include memories of sleepy summer days, picking juicy lychees and mangoes from our backyard trees. The air, filled with the sweet aroma of these fruits, intoxicated the mind, body, and soul. The neighborhood uncles and aunties enjoyed our excitement as we playfully climbed the trees to pick the delicious treats. During Holi, the festival of color, we celebrated by showering colored powders on each other, and on Teej, another holiday, we celebrated the season of showers itself. The festivities included adorning ourselves with green glass bangles and jingling silver anklets, and we’d show off our henna tattoos, sing and dance. Even today, I can close my eyes to instantly travel back in time,...

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