Mrs. Vennila has reviewed “Somewhere over the Rainbow: A Bittersweet Memoir”
Posted on: December 5, 2017.

Author: Vennila Chandrasekaran, parent of Alpha Matriculation School, Sembakkam, Chennai.

The opening lines of the story are gloomy and grim as the reader gets a glimpse of the pain, guilt, and inner turmoil of the youngest daughter who returns only to pay her last respects to her deceased mother. The mood is poignant and thick with sadness, as the writer describes the small house filled with mourners, the funeral procession, and even the unkempt cemetery, with vivid details of each setting.

This is a rather unusual way to start a story, but then, how the writer skilfully manages to manoeuvre the reader to the brighter side of her childhood memories filled with amusing anecdotes, self-deprecating humour, and simple pleasures of humble living, is surprising.

This short story also reflects and gives insight into the cultural values and lifestyle of a Goan family settled in Chennai for a better future in the post colonial period of the 80’s.

The memoirs revolve around music, love, simplicity, and faith in humanity. The mother, a singer, marries a man much elder to her, just for love, and manages to raise a large family—a brood of six children—with almost no obvious source of income. It is a living tale of sacrifice, where the elder children drop out of school to support the family in ways they could, and the widow unrelentingly mortgages her meagre possessions to raise her young children, piteously ignored by the relatives.

Yet, this is a story of triumph with the siblings succeeding in life, having made a mark in the fields of music and literature, and the mother, Mrs. Theresa, enjoying a decent farewell complete with her beloved children, friends, neighbours and loyal maid. We could almost hear her sing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow…’ Yes, it is optimism all the way.

And I guess writing this biographical account must have been instrumental in healing, as well as trying to find meaning in the writer’s childhood, filled with painful memories, bittersweet relationships, meagreness, and above all, love and faith in humanity. This memoir is definitely an interesting read.

Other book reviews by Vennila published on Yokibu:

Mrs. Vennila Chandrasekaran has a Masters in Psychology, and is a teacher in The Lords’ International School, Tambaram, Chennai. She is the mother of two sons, aged 18 and 13 years, both students of Alpha Matriculation School.

Vennila’s hobbies are reading and writing.

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