Elisheba Haqq, the youngest of seven children has lost her mother, Mamaji to cancer. She is living with a cold and unfeeling stepmother and searching for answers. The small-town Minnesotans believe the family members are the “perfect immigrants.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Haqq offers an honest and atypical perspective in her memoir Mamaji. She’s not the usual Indian immigration success story. She doesn’t attend an Ivy League college, have a Bollywood-inspired wedding or become a neurosurgeon. Instead, with humor and introspection, she shares how she and her siblings contend with a manipulative stepmother. Elisheba battles to salvage her father’s love while the fast-fading memory of her mother lingers in the background. Despite her absence, Mamaji gives her children grit and a deep devotion for each other enabling them to flourish despite their home life.
Mamaji is a story about a daughter longing to connect with her lost mother. It’s about a mother’s bond to her children and how her love brings great strength and resilience. It’s a story of redemption and forgiveness despite blatant injustice and deceit. It proves a difficult past does not determine future love and happiness.
About the Author
Elisheba Haqq was born in Chandigarh, India, but was brought up in Minnesota, USA. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently teaches writing at Rutgers University.
Her work has appeared in A Letter for my Mother, Gateways, She.knows.com, and New Jersey Monthly. An RN by profession, she has also been published in Creative Nursing and Journal of Nursing Education and Practice. She enjoys unplanned travel, black tea, and printed books. Elisheba lives in New Jersey with her family and can be found online at www.elishebahaqq.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Elisheba Haqq deftly weaves the loss of her beloved mother throughout this coming of age memoir. It takes courage to tell as it is, and Haqq does not waver from the truth. Ultimately what comes across is the deep sense of loss and the longing for times bygone, yet forging ahead in the face of injustice and a yearning for love. The fierce attachment to her family gives Haqq strength and humor to get through life, and she infuses her writing with these. What an absolutely delightful read!
— Supriya Bhatnagar, author of …and then there were three
“Elisheba has a way of transporting you to another time and place that is unmatched. Mamaji will make you yearn for innocence that made you believe that parents are invincible beings.”
— Nina Foxx, author of Momma: Gone, NAACP Image Award Finalist
Elisheba Haqq’s Mamaji pushes against the boundaries of memoir; her text pulsating with a novel’s energy. Papaji, Mamaji, and their seven children move from India to the frozen wastes of Minnesota. Soon after their arrival Mamaji falls ill and tragically dies within months of her cancer diagnosis, when Haqq was only three years old. Haqq’s yearning for Mamaji is deeply poignant–. “Was her voice like mine—deep and intense? Or was it soft and calm?” Mamaji’s absence remains a lingering music in Haqq’s childhood spent as The Other, as she tries to win the affection of a stepmother whose cruelty knows no bounds. Against the stepmother’s locked heart the love between the masterfully-drawn siblings shines. Haqq’s childhood self is as delightful and irresistible as Jane Eyre. Mamaji sweeps you away from yourself and into its pages.
— Stephanie Dickinson, author of Girl Behind the Door: A Memoir of Delirium and Dementia
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