Five Interesting Mother Figures from Contemporary Indian Fiction

JU News Desk
Published: May 2018

Mothers come in several avatars. They have inspired authors to create some of the most complex, heart-touching and memorable figures in literature. Here are a few of interesting characters from Indian English fiction who have charmed the readers with their wit, strength and quirks.

Rukmani from Nectar in a Sieve

“Is human endurance unlimited?” It comes to mind as we finish reading Kamla Markandya’s Nectar in a Sieve. It is remembered for her female protagonist, Rukmani who portrays the plight of many mothers from the India of the 1950s. Her character showcases human strength, endurance and the undying love she has for her family. The struggles she undergoes lives long in our memories after reading the book.

Ammu from God of Small Things

Ammu, the mother of Estha and Rahel in Arundhati Rai’s, God of Small Things is way apart from the conventional portrayals of Indian motherhood. She is not governed by the norms of the society. Strict and loving towards her two children, Ammu stands out in a household full of women trying to vie with one another in the novel.

Rupa Mehra from A Suitable Boy

She loves sweets, smells of eau-de-cologne and is completely obsessed with marrying off her youngest daughter, Lata to a ‘suitable boy’.  That is Rupa Mehra created by none other than Vikram Seth. Her character adds wit and charm to the novel in that old fashioned way.

Ashima from The Namesake

Ashima Ganguli or Monu (pet name), feels somewhat lost in America. Even the birth of her children feels ‘half-true’ to her. A doting mother and wife, Ashima represents the Indian immigrant mother who craves the life she has left behind. Underneath her calm exterior and acceptance of her life abroad, lies the deep yearning for the traditions and cultures she had grown up with.

Nanda Kaul, Fire on the Mountain

Here is another mother from Anita Desai’s novel, Fire in the Mountain. Nanda Kaul, establishes herself in her family home in her dotage. An unconventional mother, many would say, Nanda’s character looks into the other side of motherhood.