Manisha Yadav is a content writer based out of Hyderabad. She was a Miss India 2008 finalist, and has about a decade’s experience in corporate communication and advertising. She loves to travel to explore the cultures of the world and yet, has come to the conclusion that the best, most important stories that need to be told are ones that exist in our homes.
TBE: Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created in ‘What We Pass on to Our Daughters’?
Manisha Yadav: The book is a simple, direct narration on where women stand today, under the institution of marriage, compared to where they were decades ago. It speaks of how the tyrannical patriarchy, has now transformed into a more passive aggressive one, still refusing respect and dignity to a woman, simply because she’s a daughter-in-law.
As the characters of Maya (a millennial) and Vaidehi (from the 80s) speak from different generations, for us to draw parallels between their lives, the book uncovers the concepts of gender-bias, monogamy, polyamory and generation gap, which can’t be missed out on when speaking of marriages today.
It sheds light on women increasingly tearing away from the inherited silent endurance, and fighting to embrace the idea of equality, and the consequences that that has on a marriage. There has been on-going debate about the rise in divorces in modern India and the book explores just one of the million reasons attributed to the changing face of the institution of marriage today.
TBE: What made you want to write a novel, particularly on subject of mother-daughter relationship? What is the inspiration for your book?
Manisha Yadav: All the women around me. Once you get married the conversations change and it hit me how all the women, irrespective of their backgrounds, silently go through the same treatment. What shocks me is how normalised this is. I realised that generational conditioning is the spine of marriage as an institution even today. I write from the view point of women, but if I had to write from a male perspective, even the husbands’ experiences and behaviour would be a result of generational conditioning.
TBE: Any significant discoveries you made as you wrote about mother/daughter relationships?
Manisha Yadav: I realised that what could once anger a daughter, is nothing but a helpless necessity that a mother must impose on her. The anger that a woman bestows on the one before her, is actually a doing of the society. Women are pitted against each other in every aspect of life, but it was shocking to see how deeply ingrained this is in families.
TBE: What was most difficult in the writing of ‘What we pass on to our daughters’ . . . (and/or the most joyful part)?
Manisha Yadav: The most difficult part was to deeply realise the helplessness of women in the face of the society. The striking truth that women need to pull down other women many a times as a result of the societal circumstances was hair-raising. It left me wondering- how, how did we manage to do this? How did we get here? Is there a way out?
TBE: Between Maya and Vaidehi, we see a couple different versions of womanhood throughout the book. In writing ‘What We Pass on to Our Daughters’, did you learn anything new about womanhood?
Manisha Yadav: I realised that women love differently than men. Whether it’s for the love of a child, or finding love for herself– the love that a woman deeply believes in holds the power to completely and severely transform her.
TBE: Vaidehi is very resilient and strong woman. Did you model her after anyone specific? Tell us a little about what makes her tick.
Manisha Yadav: I believe you knock on the depths of any middle-class woman from that generation and you’ll find a Vaidehi. And yet that way she doesn’t let her circumstances change her, is what sets her apart. Years of silent endurance and yet she doesn’t become her circumstances. Despite going through it all, when it is “her time” she manages to break the cycle.
TBE: In many ways ‘What We Pass on to Our Daughters’ is an uplifting story that inspires hope, but it also highlights a social system with negative qualities. What do you hope is the main message that readers come away with after reading this book?
Manisha Yadav: Acceptance. To let go of the hurt we feel when we see our mothers silently ensuring & passing on the silence to us. To not judge our daughters as they tear away from the conditioning and find pave their own way- no matter how different that might look.
TBE: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your book with readers?
Manisha Yadav: I’d like to say that they book doesn’t stand for one way or the other. It speaks of different women that take different course with their life. Even ‘love’ looks so different from their perspectives. It is exactly how real life is. So, read it not be convinced of one way of life, but to see that there are many and to be accepting of them all.
TBE: How was your publishing journey with Leadstart?
Manisha Yadav: Very smooth. Leadstart was even helpful in my moments of doubt about my work. For a first-time author, the patient hand-holding really helped.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Manisha Yadav: Not quite done with women, love and relationships. I have this irrational idea that if I dig deep enough go back into generations, I will find the root from where all of this first stemmed. Haha. But for now, a lot of talking, informal interviews to understand the generations of our grandmothers. I am sure there’s something substantial waiting there.