Beneath My Mother’s Feet

My latest read, Beneath My Mother’s Feet by Amjed Qamar, is not a very happy book.  In fact, I was mad at most of the characters for nearly the entire book.  That being said, it is a good story about a culture that many American readers know little about.  It also touches on dealing with one’s family expectations and duties while forming one’s own identity.

Nazia is a good daughter.  She always does exactly what her mother asks of her.  Her family lives in Karachi, Pakistan, and, while they are not wealthy, they seem to be comfortable and happy.  Nazia enjoys school and is looking forward to her arranged marriage at the end of the school year.  Things change, however, when Nazia’s father is injured at work and can no longer earn money for the family.  Nazia is forced to drop out of school and work with her mother cleaning others’ houses.  Her older brother steals her dowry, and, even when her father has healed, he refuses to work.  When word of these changes gets to her future father-in-law, Nazia’s engagement is called off.  On top of all of this, Nazia and her family are evicted from their small house and are forced to become live-in servants.

Nazia feels that she has lost the life she once had.  She can see no way out of her current situation.  Who will provide for her mother and two younger siblings if she does not do the lion’s share of the work?  What will become of her if she cannot marry, as is expected of a proper girl?  Read Beneath My Mother’s Feet to learn the story of a girl who is doing all she can to make a better life for herself while still being a good daughter.

When I was reading this book, I reflected on my own relationship with my mother.  Honestly, my mom is a saint compared to the mothers portrayed in this book.  (My mom should probably be sainted for putting up with me anyway.)  I know that culture plays a large part in the mothers’ behaviors in this book, but I cannot imagine a mother seeing her children as workers whose only worth is earning money for the family.  My mom has never shown me anything but love, and I now consider her one of my best friends.  I highly recommend Beneath My Mother’s Feet for any readers, particularly females, who want to examine the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters.

2 comments on “Beneath My Mother’s Feet

  1. Edi says:

    It can be so difficult to accept a story within the country that it exists. So often we want the same opportunities for the characters that we have without realizing the intricacies of the culture. I just finished reading a book about a young girl in Libya at the turn of the century. The book was about girls need education and the same opportunities as men. To me, it read as revisionist western writing. I found it hard to believe that a young girl would want to experience something so outside the guidelines of her culture without someone or something having planted the idea.Sometimes, we have to read the stories to understand how things in other cultures really function. It sounds as if Beneath My Mother’s Feet offers a little more authenticity.

    • klknight says:

      Thanks so much for your comments! I agree that some authors tend to “Westernize” characters of other cultures. I think more authors should stay true to the cultures they are writing about. It does make for a more authentic reading experience.

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