TWO MOTHERS is a book of 14 life stories written by noted journalist, film critic and director Khalid Mohamed first published in the year 2012. Most of these stories are autobiographical and that creates an interest in the reader to read them. The writer’s language structure and storytelling technique is a bit complicated and therefore all these stories differ from each other in their plot construction. The second half of the book is difficult to read for the normal readers, especially when they only used to a straight forward approach in reading. But some of these stories are really commendable and show the life of a lonely urban man searching for his emotional, spiritual and sexual identity. Khalid Mohamed is mostly remembered as the writer of the film Zubeida which is the story of his own mother. Zubeida was a Hindi film actress who married the Maharaja of Jodhpur and changed her religion. Khalid was her son from her previous marriage and he was brought up by his maternal grandmother whom he called Fayazi Ma. Film Zubeida gives a detailed description of the life of the actress till her tragic death due to a plane crash.
TWO MOTHERS is the first story in the book which is the true story of Khalid Mohamed himself where his search for his biological mother and to get connected to her becomes the prime motive of the author. He loves his grandmother but she never gave him those minor details he wanted regarding his abandonment by his biological mother when he was just two years old. But after the death of his grandmother he finds a letter which explains in detail about his mothers grief living away from her little son, It explains that she was torn and shattered with the death of her twin babies born before Khaled and blames Fayazi ma for their death. She wanted to remarry to get out of the maternal home which was suffocating her, but she never wanted to abandon her son. She writes in her last letter to her mother that she will be coming to get her son back but it never could happen due to the accident. It gives solace to the reader and the writer that Zubeida never intended to abandon her child but loved him the same. The rift between the two mothers was definitely there but Khaled got the love from both of them. But this could not stop his feelings of loneliness or his search for identity and parental affection from the people with whom he got connected during his lifetime.
“AS-SALAAM ALAIKUM, MR MINISTER” is a comical story which speaks about Fayazi Ma and her witty side. When she wanted to get a favor from the then Minister Morarji Desai, she overrules the man with her crying and yelling and finally forces him to give her what she wants. After the episode she quietly winks at her grandson who accompanies her and demonstrates the power of Woman’s tears.
“ TEHMINA FROM BANDRA” is the story of a strong independent woman Tehmina who marries into the family and gets closer to the young protagonist who develops interest towards poetry and fiction with her association. He becomes fascinated with Rilke’s poetry at a very young age and enjoys Tehmina reciting the poetry to him. She is a major influence in his live and gives him the first taste to pure literature. When things become sour between the couple, the cousin gets divorced. Tehmina moves away. Though the writer knows her house he could not get the courage to visit her when she becomes an outsider to the family and an ex in his brothers life. But after growing up he regrets his silence. The bond he shared with Tehmina is still fresh in his mind and the loss remained throughout his life. Some divorces end good family ties too.
TO MISS MORDECI WITH LOVE is the story of young Javed’s love towards his attractive teacher in school. It gives the glimpse of innocent love and attraction in a young boy towards the opposite sex. There is so much of motherly grace in the relation. When Javed expresses his feelings childishly, the teacher who is mystified and touched with the child’s innocent love wishes him that someday in future, he may really taste true love. The maternal hug he gets from her then was so pure, precious and fulfilling that he has been searching for that kind of experience all through his life, but he could never find any other girl to make him feel so. That touch of love remains afresh in his memories.
ANWARI’S LAST LAUGH is the story of a woman called Anwari Chaudhari who is been attended by her nephew Sadiq Ali during her last hours. Sadiq spent his childhood holidays at Hyderabad with his aunt Anwari. She was pockmarked and termed ugly. She was neglected by everyone in the family and was treated as an unpaid servant. In the royal family where illegal relations were common and everyone had their own secret pleasures, she was despised when she left the house with her hard earned money buying apartments on her own and renting them to ladies of questionable character. She chose to live alone on meager amounts and saved her earnings cleverly invested. Sadiq s parents die in a plane crash and Anwari attends the ceremony. Sadiq moves to leave with his grandparents and lost touch with her but at the time of her death being able to understand the fake moralities people boast about and the real characters around he finally approaches Anwari in the hospital who is dying. Everything happens mechanically but when he comes to know that Anwari had left all her property to him, he breaks down and cries for the first time in his life. This is a story of family hypocrisies, ties, and bindings which are shown inseparable amidst all the foul human and family behavior around.
SHE IS LEAVING HOME is the life of a girl called Sona who is sold to the flesh market to become a prostitute which is shown as her destiny. Born to a woman who did not want to be a prostitute but a simple wife, the girl is abandoned by her father who never wants to get married to a low woman. When the mother becomes lonely and depressed with the birth of a girl child, the grandmother is happy to have a beautiful child who can bring luck to their trade. Sona grows up into a young and beautiful woman, the mother remarries to stay chaste and the family is in financial trouble. Though Sona’s biological father sends a meager amount every month she has to be sold to fulfill the financial commitments of the family. What her mother has been avoiding all through her life becomes the fate of Sona. Sona accepts her fate willingly.
THE BALLIMARAN SISTERS is the story of two sisters Ghazala and Nazneen who were separated in their childhood when Nazneen is given into adoption to their mother’s sister who has no children and is married into a wealthy family. Nazneen meets her biological parents and sister every summer during vacation. As they grow up Nazneen drifts away from her family and grows into an individualistic woman. Ghazala faces tragedy in life and during an abortion she loses her uterus and the chance to become a mother for ever. When the sisters bond again Ghazala takes a promise from Nazneen that she will be given Nazneen’s child for adoption in future thus taking them both back to the same point of their childhood where they had to part due to family sentiments and which they regret to this day. They now promise to make these sentiments the fate of their future children too.
SCHEHEREZADE’S TEA CUP is the story of an old lady who comes to India with her husband from Iran to live well. With four children and losing her husband she becomes lonely in life. Her only attachment to her country and her past is the old tea cup she has carried to India from Iran. One day the cup is broken and while throwing the pieces away and replacing it she finds out that she has been clinging to a mere object all the while emotionally, but the real ties with her past were actually gone from her and therefore the breaking of the cup could not give her the emotional pain she feared all through. Life is nothing but letting go the past. Even if we try to cling to it, it moves away from unnoticed by our own selves.
A PRINCE IN TIME is the story of a royal prince Rajkumar Kabir Pratap Singh. He is a passionate young man in his prime of youth and loves socializing and having friends around. He is a man who is sentimental about his relationships and yearns for true bonding. But when the time comes he is compelled to take the responsibility of being the next royal and this robs all the simple pleasures of life from him. He gets into the web of royalty and gets lost in it. The story is told through his closest friend, who understands what sacrifice the prince had to make to keep the royalty alive.
FATHER LOST AND FOUND is the story of a middle age journalist who all his life has been searching for his biological father. When he finds him and gets to know the place of his residence, he finally manages to go near the house. But when the time comes to face his father, he fears the inevitable and comes back without knocking the door filled with suspicions and doubts. He chose to leave the past as it is, fearing to face the truth and the confrontation.
TO DREAM OR NOT TO DREAM is a story which has a complex structure and speaks about a journalist who dreams a lot and lives through emotional pain. He writes well and is respected around but once he practices to put an end to his dreams and succeeds, he also loses his creative skills which make him totally lost to the world.
SUNDAY COGNAC EVENINGS is the story of a journalist who is in search for a fatherly figure in his fatherless life, with whom he dreams to get emotional support and understanding. His previous experiences to bond with such Fatherly figures turned hurtful but still he gets close to a senior actor who bonds with him due to his status as a film critic. The journalist finds out, how his emotions have been used and how he has been manipulated by the man whom he started loving as a father. The story talks about the loneliness of single children who miss their parent in childhood and their wish to compensate their emotional loss by bonding with other matured people. But this loneliness always leads them to a world of exploitation, which later gives them more pain and leaves them with a feeling of deceit and loneliness.
THE RESIGNATION LETTER is another complicated story which speaks about the relationships among people in media and show business and also the emotional black mail they are put to every time and everywhere.
CYBERSEX AND THE CITY is a story of a frustrated middle aged man who comes to terms with his bisexuality. His thirst for true happiness through physical intimacy grows out after a lot of experiments and then he is guided to gay clubs and chat houses from where he chooses a partner whom he thinks can be the final road to his happiness.
The stories mostly seem autobiographical. They are basically constructed in a Muslim cultural environment and Hindu royalty. Raised as a Muslim and having an half brother in the Hindu royalty Khaled is acquainted with both society first handed and therefore the experiences all seem real. His experiences as a journalist and film critic bring the true colors of the media and the glamour world too. During an interview Khalid put his message in one line stating “I WAS HURTING MYSELF THROUGH THESE STORIES” and clearly deciphered that these stories were his means of coming in terms with his internal pain and therefore he has no intention to hurt anyone else. But in every story we can find a lonely child who is thirsty for the parental love, the mothers hug and a father’s guidance. We find utterly lonely souls in all these pages and there is none to blame for the agony but the circumstances themselves. The cover page of the novel carries the photograph of his biological mother Zubeida Begum while the book is dedicated to his grandmother Fayazi ma justifying the influence of these two mothers in his life.