A mother’s word
Gitanjali Sharma

100 Promises To My Baby
by Mallika Chopra. Lotus/ Roli Books.
Pages 252. Rs 395.

Here are assurances arising out of love, compassion and, probably, apprehension that a mother confronts when faced with the demanding and daunting task of parenting. How to provide wholesome growth to your children? How to make their world more secure and safe? How to bring them up while managing full-time jobs? In the guise of promises, this book offers tips to ready your child to face self, the world and beyond.

Mallika Chopra, mother of two daughters Tara and Leela, began jotting down these promises when she was pregnant with her first child five years ago. Each promise, says the US-settled author in the introduction, was the result of the desire to fill her daughters’ world with wonder, magic, adventure and mystery. Every vow, she admits, has been inspired by something she has actually experienced or learned.

Written lucidly, each resolution is followed by anecdotal text that throws light on the affirmation made. Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra’s daughter has hauled out much from the family vault of experiences, tradition and memories to elucidate each outpouring. Instances and episodes from her life, immediate and extended family, travels across the globe, and work find mention in the book. For instance, she backs the assertion "I promise to show you the power that love has to change the world" with an incident in her grandfather’s life. A doctor in the Army, he healed and nurtured many in a remote village in India, and in turn received their love and bought their faith in the western system of medicine.

Interspersed with such autobiographical notes, a tad too gushing in places, come stories, poems, tales, fables and myths lending credence to the promises. For instance, Mallika has quoted from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran while making the promise "to hold you but never hold on to you" and takes the support of the classic lion-mouse Aesop’s fable to affirm "I promise to empower you to achieve great things."

Grouping the promises under ten subheads such as Connections, Hopes, Traditions, Choices, Values, Lessons, Love, Purpose, Miracles and Spirit, the author seeks reader participation by ending some of the chapters with a footnote titled ‘reflection’. For example, after illustrating the promise "to give you the confidence to create new ways of doing old things" with an episode in her father’s life, she goes on to involve the reader by asking him to "write a promise to your child about following (or not following) a certain family tradition`85."

By the time you reach the last promise, you realise it is not easy to keep track of the other 99 affirmations. But, you appreciate that all the vows made by the author rest on pure maternal instinct and can be related to by any parent.

The book could be a promising tool in the hands of mothers as well as serve as a lesson in self-help to those seeking a more fulfilling life. As Deepak Chopra says in the foreword, "The world was never changed or transformed by politicians, or for that matter, by scientists. The mothers of the world hold the key to the healing of our wounded planet. Let us promise ourselves that we will help them keep their promises."