Swati is the last person Rachel Meyer expects to find at her front door in Mumbai. Swati is also the last person Rachel’s husband, Dhruv, expects to find at home after work one day. Swati, a native of Kolkata, is Dhruv’s mother and Rachel’s mother-in-law, and she’s moving in. So starts Leah Franqui’s novel, Mother Land, a story of trying to find oneself in another country and placing the success of that on another person.
As cities have increasingly become hitching posts for books, both fiction and non-fiction, Mumbai has naturally been subjected to thematic treatment. The city is celebrated for its resilience and its cosmopolitanism; tributes wax eloquent about its trains, its sea, its heritage buildings, or the diverse communities that inhabit it, to the point that its greatness has increasingly begun to sound clichéd.
Mumbai, or Bombay as it was once known, has a Christian memory. This needs pointing out because it is not among the frequently consulted or talked about whenever the city is mentioned in Bollywood or even the fiction produced about the city.