In defense of a child free life

Motherhood. It’s a biggie! It’s a life-altering, soul changing decision. You bring a new life into this world, an innocent little life that you are responsible for.


Society would have you believe that as a woman, it is your “duty” to have a child. That your life will be “meaningless” without one. That you will “regret” your decision when you are “old and alone with no one to ask after you”.

But just because society says it’s the done thing and because everyone around you is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right. Besides, having a child is no guarantee that you will have someone to look after you in your old age. I’m sure you’ve seen enough old folks around whose kids have all but abandoned them.

Choosing to have a child is a big decision – and I tip my hat to all of you who have chosen parenthood. When it comes to me, though, I have always believed that you should want – desperately, whole heartedly, irrationally – to have a child. Then, and only then, should you have one. Because having a child is a full-time job. A HUGE responsibility. And you can’t say “Oops, sorry, not my thing” after you have a child.

That desire has never arisen in me. Sure, I’ve felt a surge of panic when friends have told me they’re having a baby. Very happy for them, mind, just wondering if there is something wrong with me. If my decision is “wrong”. If I am going to regret it.


Until I think it through – about actually having this little helpless human dependent on me for everything. A life I will have to mould and shape, and won’t know if I am doing an even half-way decent job of it until it’s too late. I think of all my free time being gone. Of having this full time responsibility forever, 24x7x365 until I die. And I feel suffocated. And so I know – my decision is right, for me. At the end of the day, I would rather regret not having a child than having one and regretting the decision.

So when I saw this survey, with answers by 270 women on why they don’t want children, some of whom are in their 60s and are wildly happy, I felt like I had been heard.

There are many, many reasons why I don’t want children. One blog post isn’t going to be enough to write about them all. But this I know for sure: I don’t want or need children to feel validated as a woman. I don’t need children to give my life meaning or to pass my legacy on though a child. I love my life, my free time, my space, quiet and solitude. I love being able to make decisions without thinking about a kid. I love the fact that I can spend my time lost in the flow of creating a painting or reading a book or binge-watching GoT. The husband and I are at peace with our decision – one that we have revisited every couple of years during our 13-year marriage – and at the end of the day, that is what matters.

So, what are your thoughts on motherhood or on being child free? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Note: I last wrote on this topic back in 2009, after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s awesome novel, Eat, Pray, Love. You can read that post here: Thoughts on motherhood

Returning to a place you’ve never been to before

Have you ever felt an intense longing to return to a place you’ve never been to before? To walk along those roads again. To rest awhile in its embrace once more. To reacquaint yourself with the people and the houses, the nooks and the crannies, the roads and the twisting, winding paths that you’ve never been on before.

Like this beautiful cottage somewhere in the English countryside…


…or walking the road to Santiago…

…grape picking at a vineyard in France…

…or watching the sun rise and fall into the sea…

Sunrise in Kanyakumari  Photo courtesy:  Mehul Antani, via Flickr

Sunrise in Kanyakumari
Photo courtesy: Mehul Antani, via Flickr

From where do these longings arise? This deep desire to return to a city so familiar that it feels like you must have been there…sometime…but you never have. Is it a faded memory of a past life? A desire for a different life? Or an ache for all that you know you will probably never achieve?

Have you ever felt this call? Do you have a theory about it? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

Book Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s fierce and provocative new novel, the first one to be set in our current times, exposes the damage that adults wreak on children, and how this echoes through the generations.

When Sweetness gives birth to Lula Ann Bridewell, who calls herself Bride, she is unprepared for her darkness. Bride’s blue-black coloring repels Sweetness, who doesn’t want to hold her or touch her. It makes Sweetness unduly harsh, constantly criticizing and shouting at the young Lula Ann, who only wants her mother’s approval – at any cost.

Booker grew up in a large, loving family. Their most sacred time was the weekend, when the whole family gathered around breakfast table, which was dominated by good food and cheerful conversations. While growing up, Booker hero worshipped his older brother Adam. Then one day, Adam disappeared, and Booker’s life took a U-turn.

When Bride’s and Booker’s paths cross, they are drawn to one another almost instantly. In Booker, Bride finds the acceptance she has always craved. In Bride, Booker finds the peace that has been ever elusive since Adam’s death. But will their childhood scars allow them to find the love and peace they both crave? Or will their demons raise their ugly heads and tear everything asunder?

This slim, spare novel is a profound meditation on the wide-ranging impact that a traumatic childhood can have, not only on the child and he or she grows into adulthood, but even on the people around them. Though Bride has grown into a successful fashion industry mogul and flaunts her blackness as a badge of beauty, her personal life is in shambles. And Booker, despite having access to the best of education and wisdom beyond his years, still drifts through life without aim, carrying the cross of his brother.

While this is undoubtedly a compelling read and unlike Morrison’s earlier books, isn’t very heavy on the vernacular, it does have its flaws. The biggest of which is some potentially interesting underdeveloped characters, like Bride’s sinister so-called best friend Brooklyn. Morrison gives her a very fleeting appearance in the book, and those few short chapters narrated in her voice are not enough to do her character any sort of justice. There’s also a sense that she could have had a more pivotal role in the novel, but she’s just not given the importance she deserves. The same goes for Booker’s aunt Queen, who, with her wisdom and her flaws, could have served as a sharp counterpoint to Sweetness. But their stories are woefully short. Despite this slight failing, God Help The Child is a powerful, engrossing read.

Book review: Seahorse by Janice Pariat

Seahorse is the story of Nem, a student of English literature at Delhi University. He drifts between classes, attends off-campus parties with free-flowing drinks and weed, and writes articles for the college magazine. Until one day he crosses paths with an art historian – an encounter that changes the course of his life, steering him into a world of pleasure and artistic discovery. And then one day, without warning, his mentor disappears.

In the years that follow, Nem settles down in South Delhi, earning a name for himself as an art critic. When he is awarded a fellowship to London, a cryptic note plunges him into a search for the art historian – a search that forces him to revisit the past and separate fact from fiction.

At this point, are you thinking that this novel may not have much to offer? That maybe you’ve read other books with similar story lines and aren’t sure if this has anything that will interest you? That you don’t want to waste more time or money looking for an Indian author you may fall in love with? What can I say to convince you?

Maybe I can tell you that this is a beautiful book…a story told with nuance and restraint. I could tell you that the characters are well-drawn, that the novel flows, nay glides, taking you along with it. I could tell you that the prose is luminous, that it will have you gasping at the sheer poetry on the page. But maybe I should just get out of the way and give you a few little excerpts from the book – something tickle your taste buds, so to speak.

On time:

Time is tricky.

You organize it into days. You break it down to a second, build it up to a century. A millennium. You shift, and stack, hoarding time into holidays and long weekends.

You peel away the calendar pages. Carry it around in smartphones and computers. It has shape. A design. Hands and digits. Glowing figured. And yet, it can’t be tamed.

On prophesies:

Isn’t that what we all search for? A sign, a purported signal of things to come, a pointer, a market of how life would unfurl before is.

Prophesies are the most scientific of supernatural phenomena, for they, like science, invest in a single outcome. The one truth.

And yet. And yet the universe is forever shifting, swelling with infinite possibilities and infinite outcomes. The power of prophesies lie in their self-fulfillment.

On cartography:

Stations, airports, and docks are sites of infinite departure, reservoirs of potential journeys, of possible events, the slippery and fleeting, worlds aborted and almost born.

I looked at the train tracks, joining and parting, reflecting light.

How difficult was it to comprehend this web of connections? This complicated intersection of lines.

At some point we feel compelled to account for every decision, every circumstance that places us in a particular moment.

We paint a surface and leave no free spaces. Horror vacui. The fear of the empty.

In the end, we are all cartographers – looking at a map of our lives. Marking out the uneven course of our existence, hoping there’ll be no disappearances, of ourselves and the people we love.

Have I convinced you yet?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher, but the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Book review: Recipes For Melissa by Teresa Driscoll

Melissa Dance was eight years old when her mother died. They never got to say goodbye.

Seventeen years later, Melissa is handed a journal. As she smoothes open the pages and begins to read her mother’s words, she is instantly transported back to her childhood.

As I write now, you are eight years old – asleep in the bed next door in princess pyjamas, with a fairy costume discarded on the floor.

Twenty-Five. The age I had you. The age our story began. And the age, I hope, that will see you truly ready for the things that I need to say to you…

IMG_0264.JPGMelissa’s boyfriend has just popped the question, but ever since she lost her mother, she’s afraid – of what, even she isn’t sure. So though she loves Sam, she tells him she isn’t ready to get married. Sam is afraid that Melissa will leave him, Melissa is afraid she will lose Sam. And in the middle of this drama, the lawyers call to hand over her mother’s diary. Her mother. Whom she hasn’t really mourned properly. Who died, suddenly, and left her alone – a bundle of nervous ticks and an over analysing mind. Scared of disappearing in the middle of her story.

But as she starts to read her mother’s words, the photographs and recipes pry her childhood memories lose. Memories she had buried deep within her, so much so that she isn’t sure if they are real, or if she is just imagining the scenes presented by the pictures and the words in the journal. As Melissa slowly makes her way through the book, Driscoll alternates between the past and the present – between Melissa’s mother Eleanor’s last days and Melissa’s current worries and fears.

As Melissa slowly makes her way through the book, the entries start to take a darker turn as Eleanor shares some details about the incidence of cancer in her family and the possibility that she may be genetically predisposed to cancer. As Melissa grapples with the implications of this information, she is

also shocked to learn of her mother’s secrets – secrets that if shared, could change Melissa’s world forever.

Featuring some simple, hearty recipes and some beautiful snippets of advice from a mother to a daughter, Driscoll builds up a beautiful, uplifting novel. She makes you feel Melissa’s pain and fears; her father, Max’s heartbreak and eventual healing; and Eleanor’s desperate attempt to try and find all the pieces of the cancer puzzle in time.

This beautifully crafted novel with its poignant legacy from a mother to her daughter makes for a perfect summer read…but it might just stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley, but the review and opinions expressed are my own.