In A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi we are introduced to two different woman, brought together by need. Pryia lives a life of ease, with everything she ever dreamed of. A loving husband, a job and a beautiful home. Yet she feels unfulfilled without a child. She and her husband have tried numerous times and were unable to carry to term.
Her husband loves her greatly but does not understand her yearning, but is more then willing to accommodate her needs. When they hear of surrogacy available in India, she begins a new journey, one that could lead to hope restored or more heart break.
Asha lives in a Southern Indian village. Her family does not have much. She lives there with her husband and two children barely able to make ends meet and with a home falling down around them. Her husband wants her to become a surrogate in order to move them up in life, there is very good money in the program. Asha does not like the idea but the pressure from her family is great. Her own son is extremely gifted and if their life does not change, he will be unable to get the education that he needs to escape a life of poverty. It is this, and only this, that allows her to make the decision.
Meeting the family is awkward for Pryia as Asha does not particularly like her. They come from different worlds and while Asha is moving forward for need she feels Pryia is only moving forward through want. Yet neither of them know the other, nor what drives them. Continents apart, that is not likely to change.
As Asha moves into full maternity mode, she has to caution herself. She wants so badly to fall in love with the baby. At a certain trimester, the surrogates are moved into a home for care, and Asha has to leave her children till the birth of this new child. This home is known as the House for Happy Mothers. Yet while Asha is beginning to relax, she doesn’t find her new living arrangement to her liking. She misses her home and her family. The other residents are jealous of her because her child’s mother, sends her gifts for both herself and her family. Not everyone has such kind parents for the child they carry.
When Asha has a small emergency, Pryia moves herself to India for the rest of the pregnancy, fearing the worst. It is here that they come to understand the other in ways that dissolve the distrust and anger, as well as the feelings of guilt, on both sides.
Malladi takes us into a world that is very different then our own, and gives us characters that have a great deal of inner strength. Each is very determined in their own way to make the most of the situation, and the thread that draws them together becomes a light of goodness and happiness for both.
If you enjoy reading about other cultures and love literary fiction, you will find this to be the perfect work. It is moving and thoughtful as well as full of hope.
This would be a great work for a discussion group created a great deal of dialogue and discussion.