Ammi : Letter to a Democratic Mother

October 11, 2012
Author: Saeed Mirza
Publisher: Westland Books Pvt.Ltd.
Year: 2008
ISBN: 9788189975364
Rating: ★★★½☆
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For a change, it was when I read the preface that had me thinking toward old-existing unanswered questions right at the beginning of few pages. Author’s words starts for his mother and to some extent are formed and mould out of his mother’s soul. The book is the journey of Saeed Mirza’s (narrator and the author) life in the form of letters to his Ammi-Mother, who passed away in 1990, leaving him in the time to become one of the story tellers, stories which he's been living with for years about India & Politics, Post Independence & Muslims Identity, Poverty at large and Congress Belief. It is one of those makes you wonder with constant urge of exploring the rage thinking about India in now and then sense.

He is addressing his letters to Ammi, a democratic mother who had an inquisitive mind and inclination toward social issues, political agendas and a streak to be liberal and opinionated about the world- changing or unchanging. Saeed has presented his personal encounters in pieces, he flows down his memories with his Ammi and Abba in the form of short stories related to events of Political Suffrage, Urdu Poetry, European Philosophers and Indian History and many more personal events and encounters of them as a growing up citizens of India.


As the short stories proceeds, some inter-linked with each other; it follows Saeed’s domestic travelling with his wife Jennifer and acknowledgment of hidden places and states in India, each moment and encounters with people and situations covering up the learning he received.

The book and the short stories definitely captivates you, narrator is making you accounted with Ammi. If you're looking for a peice which talks about history and civilisation, related by and large with ongoing issues along with contemporary events of India, this book will certainly answer and make you aware of the most domestically inclined political issues. And also one of its most wonderful parts of narration is the beautiful blend of Poetry, Sufis, Quotes by Ghalib and a story of love which definitely gives you a softer and philosophical aura of time and work. Ultimately, Ammi definitely call himself a leftist but a ‘Sufi Leftist’, that’s the catch here.


In the end, the book has a film script in five acts- (The first lady and the terrorist) as a narrative for the readers by Saeed, based on cross-cultural friendship. Here, when Ammi leaves you on a note of clarity of unsaid answers, a short film script takes you on another journey of cultural encounter.

It might come as a big surprise for the readers those who are a little aloof of existing film directors in Indian Parallel Cinema; Saeed Akhtar Mirza is an Indian Director, known for his work mainly in Parallel Cinema. His work is adopted and influenced from the mix of socialist-Marxist conditions of Indian society, and also many other issue based events and facts. Just to make you recall one of his renowned works from 80's is- 'Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aya'.


Charu Sharma

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Books and writing take me to my Neverland. I want to drown into the creations of music-art-literature. I prefer the company of Books than people- That's cynical me!

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  • Pratik Haldankar October 11, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I would love to get my hands on one copy now. Story through letters should be an interesting one to read. 

  • Chaitanya Nettem October 11, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Nice review. Its good to see updates to Bookish and some new activity on the site.

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