Amla Mater a graphic novel by Devi Menon
A woman, it is said, is born twice. The first time is when she is born and the second time when she gives birth to another life.
In this heartwarming story about finding a home, the main protagonist, Mili, is about to be born—the second time. And amidst all the cravings and mood swings, her heart takes a walk down memory lane, very often reminiscing about her childhood spent with her grandmother and best friend, Maya. Weaving an intricate labyrinth of narrations, the author shows us life in a nondescript village of South India replete with the customs, traditions and the warmth of the people. One night, Mili is overcome with a deep desire to recreate the flavours of her childhood, and from there begins her journey of self-discovery.
Mili states in the one of the scenes, “I had a completely different notion of what cozy meant before I got to London.” These lines portray her innermost feelings thoroughly. Though she is living in London for some years now, she has not been able to associate the words cozy and home to it. Home has always been that faraway place, bustling with people and their love and warmth that she has left behind in India. This is a feeling most immigrants will be able to largely connect with. With exquisite illustrations accompanying every scene, the story takes us from the village to Chennai where Mili had studied and finally to London. Through lucid language and an engaging narrative, the author transports you to your childhood and reminds you of life, which though simple, defined contentment for you. The characters are convivial, especially the bond between Mili and Maya. Accompanied with powerful imagery, the story revolves around the different relationships that define life and add meaning to it.
Not matter how successful we get in our lives, there will always be some people who can never be replaced. Even if you are not in touch for years, the warmth of their memories is enough to make you smile on the weariest day. Inculcating these words, the author displays the significance of such people in our lives through this story.
Every chapter shows us Mili’s progress in her pregnancy and proceeds to connect her present thoughts and actions with the past. A particular scene where she is eagerly waiting to taste the gooseberry pickle she made using her grandmother’s secret recipe is heartrending and poignant. Her eagerness—excitement mixed with anxiety—is palpable to the reader and so is her disappointment on finding out that it hasn’t turned out the way she had expected it to be.
Amla Mater, can easily be called a ‘coming of age’ kind of book for it captures the various stages in a woman’s life exceptionally well. The climax had me in happy tears, as I witnessed the power of true friendship and heartfelt relationships. It left me joyous on having found a friend in Mili.
Amla Mater is available here for pre-order.
Namrata is a lost wanderer who loves travelling the length and breadth of the world. She lives amidst sepia toned walls, fuchsia curtains, fairy lights and shelves full of books. When not buried between the pages of a book, she loves blowing soap bubbles. A published author she enjoys capturing the magic of life in her words and is always in pursuit of a new country and a new story.