As you open the book, an incredibly beautiful face greets you—weatherbeaten, each line etched with suffering and sacrifice. Usually, a photo in the front of a book indicates a small-town publication, an indigent author thanking his patron. But it seems appropriate that Ilanda should greet us.
This is a riveting portrayal of Uttam Kamble’s mother, Ilanda, and also a brutally honest self-portrayal by the author. The book weaves between the past when Ilanda struggled to raise her family and educate Uttam, and the present when Uttam is a successful professional (he is chief editor of Sakal). The past is the oft-written Dalit story of struggle and incredible hardship. The present is far more interesting. Kamble has become a middle-class professional, but there are a horde of relatives who need to be educated and employed. How is he to raise his own family as a middle-class Indian while helping the others, with his mother bearing awful witness all the time? “I could not dare to confront her ideas of happiness, because I knew that I would not be able to face most of them.”