The martyr mother

Raksha Bharadia
Raksha Bharadia, author, editor, columnist and speaker

By Raksha Bharadia

Today I heard my neighbour scream at her 13-year-old daughter. A garden separates us and yet the emotions easily crossed the distance and made itself heard. The 13-year-old was sobbing, and then I heard the sound of slaps and beating. Some more screaming, the girl apologising, screaming, crying… I heard a few lines, ‘You do not deserve to live’, ‘Shut up’, ‘Get out’. What could have a 13-year-old one done to deserve this wrath? I had seen the mother with her kids, she had been loving, doting.

I asked for the husband’s number from another neighbour. Called. It was switched off. Got to know he is in Brazil. More screaming, more hitting.

I know the mother, as much as it is possible for a neighbour to know. But I do know that she has a post-graduate degree in bio-chemistry and I see her cook, clean, manage the house, the kids and their dog. She told me long back that they had domestic staff issues and she did not trust the maids with her girls. Since then it was a joint decision that she stays at home and they contain their expenses to fit his single income. A few days back we had heard another argument, she had screamed that she was in depression. That she feels worthless, of no use to anyone. The elder child had joined college in another city, which left the small family still smaller.

I was moved. Felt that the mother needed help. Of course, the 13-year-old does too. But there is very little understanding and tolerance for psychological issues (whether genetic or situational) in our culture, both of the mother and the child. Going to a counsellor is still taboo or people keep it closely guarded.

I wrote this for her…


When you put yourself last
And play the martyr
You do in a way kill yourself

Bitterness, acute bitterness
The frustration of being taken for granted
Not feeling others’ pain
Not allowing others’ happiness
Throwing your sacrifices on their faces
At every available chance
And see your loved ones squirm at you
Sometimes with guilt, sometimes with hate

What was it all for? You ask
Makes you wish you were dead…
And then they would know!

You smile…
The final honour of martyrdom
To end with a huge credit

And so you live like death
Waiting to take away from the very
You have given your life to


Let us call the spade a spade
Martyrdom, I fie you!

About eShe

eShe is an independent women’s magazine and blog based in New Delhi that amplifies women's voices and stories about our shared humanity. Reach us at

1 comment on “The martyr mother

  1. jiturajgor

    You are truly a compassionate soul with emotional heart. Knowing you is a great thing for me. Though it gave sadness, I liked reading it. Poem is excellent.


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