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Read an excerpt at : MeharaLit.
Praise for A Roll of the Dice:
‘Mona Dash’s A Roll of the Dice is aptly subtitled ‘a story of loss, love and genetics’. Her story spanning ten years records in extraordinary detail, both medical and personal, Mona’s long and arduous journey to motherhood, reminding us that children do not always come as naturally as leaves to a tree. With an introduction by Professor Bobby Gaspar of Great Ormond Street Hospital, a pioneer in gene therapy, the details of SCID (Severe Combined Immuno-Deficiency) meticulously recorded is a must-read for anyone facing a similar set of challenges. A memoir with a beating heart, the book makes a vital contribution to literature in the field.’ Shanta Acharya
‘A profoundly moving and uplifting book about the triumphant survival of life against all odds. It’ll go straight into your heart and expand its capacity for feeling. Read it and be changed.’ Neel Mukherjee
‘Powerful, moving, beautifully observed and wonderfully sensitive. It mines the depths and heights of human love and suffering and is perceptive about family dynamics, the weight of trauma and comfort of family support. The steady accretion of detail and emotion are exceptionally skilful; the book creeps up on you and steals your heart. I couldn’t stop reading once I started. I particularly like the observations of daily life in cities –the textured evocation of having to walk and talk, live, love and work in the ‘ordinary’ world –while going through operatic swings of emotion at the same time. Mona Dash is a powerful, important and fearlessly honest new voice – capable of looking the deepest suffering and the greatest joy full in the face.’ Bidisha
‘A writer of rare bravery, putting forward a manifesto against the tropes and delighting in subverting expectations.’ Roopa Farooki
‘A deeply affecting book, touching and beautifully rendered. A powerful read from an exciting new voice.’ Irenosen Okojie
‘A beautiful depiction of heartbreak and resilience. This memoir will open your eyes whilst also filling them with tears.’ Mahsuda Snaith
‘I wrote the Bubble Boy from the innocent and unaware perspective of an 11 year old boy with SCID. And I had an adventure…we all had a fictional adventure. SCID is real, full of heartache, suffering and frustration of search for help and cure. Mona Dash takes us on a journey that I could only imagine. Beautifully written, honestly written. I am a writer of fiction. This is the real thing.’ Stewart Foster (via Twitter)
Excerpt : The language of this story is for the most part lyrical and even poetic, making it a highly engaging narrative, even as it also includes more technical passages describing medical conditions and procedures. In terms of audience, this memoir might be of particular interest to mothers who are trying to conceive or experiencing issues regarding pregnancy, or health issues of a young child. However, it will at the same time appeal to a much broader audience, as the author addresses how she overcomes obstacles and stresses the importance of persistence in order to achieve one’s dreams. This memoir is not a self-help book, but it is in the best sense inspirational.
By author America Hart. Read more at the Joao-Roque Literary Journal.
A Roll Of The Dice is a recollection of a ten-year journey by Mona into the world of genetic medicine starting from the beautiful plains of India, to the bustling city of London with myriads of fear, loss, grief, anger, love and patience which culminates into a test of faith and motherhood.
Told from the author’s point of view, the opening section lurches the reader straight into a tale of trepidation and auras of death. It explicitly narrates the life of an Indian woman, in this case, Mona, which revolves around a budding career and a blissful marriage until she decides to add a baby to her schedule and life humbles her with a child with SCID, a rare genetic disorder characterized by disturbed development of T and B cells. The outcome of this episode plunges her into a tunnel of protracted fear of conception, the possibility of having an XY child and the urgent need to flee a homeland that then, was no place for a mother who is a threat to her own progeny.
Thematically, the book explores medicine to a greater extent, then migration, family love, support, beliefs and travel. It evokes bouts of bittersweet emotions in no particular order like the aftermath of having little innocents that come with pains, the joy of having dual citizenship, the relief found in family and friendship and the assurance that comes with spiritual devotion.
The writing style, the vivid description of places, and in-depth presentation of medical practices in this book reflect an uninhibited rendering of a personal experience without half-truths, which leaves nothing to doubt and this, I found remarkable and courageous.
Some medical jargon such as CVS, bubble babies, SCID, deepest pool, PPROM stuck with me. Some lines like ‘a movie style fainting fit…,’ ‘around you the entire world is producing babies…,’ made me smile. Visiting of temples and lighting of candles in Notre Dame, made me wonder how far desperation can take one; and towards the end, I wished I could read more about Mister Smith and Dr. Thomas.
I wouldn’t stop at recommending this book to women battling with infertility, mothers of SCID children or those battling other genetic disorders but also to everyone because there are things we can’t ignore: the truth about the universe, inadequate health facilities in most countries, the need to acknowledge peoples’ pains and be grateful for one thing, being normal.
By Akuchidinma Raymonda M., Nigerian fiction writer and current Senior Editor, Media and Creative Director at MeharaLit.
Mona Dash’s debut memoir, A Roll of the Dice, is an odyssey of an invincible mother who, despite her best efforts, loses her firstborn son diagnosed with SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency). The etiology of this disease is perhaps not known yet, and, therefore, the treatment is not possible in India’s underdeveloped medical system. The death of her son proves to be a cornerstone of a decisive change in her life and perhaps the genesis of this book. Knowing that if she bears a child again, her next child may well be inflicted with the same disease, her intense desire to be prepared leads her to London, where she procures a job and makes a new home.
A Roll of the Dice is a story of the glorious transformation of a woman; her sense of unassimilable loss and abiding hopes go hand in hand throughout the book. Although the void of her first lost child reverberates so often, her astute circumspection, conjectural observations, and unwavering trust propel her toward becoming a mother again. Dash’s story is emblematic of life’s unpredictability, darting back and forth between sudden delightfulness and creeping despair.
Divided into six sections with an introduction by Bobby Gasper, a professor of pediatrics and immunology, the book describes SCID in a meticulous fashion. At some instances, the memoir reads like a drab manual of medical science dealing with diseases and prognoses. However, the simple narrative tapestry of the book is spun around the medical terms sprinkled throughout its pages. As a hawk-eyed observer, Dash captures her surroundings with detailed description as well as the moments of her emotional stasis that situate the reader in the poignant world she creates.
The book’s evocative vignettes carry soul-stirring descriptions of the visceral emotions of a mother for her child. As she unspools her own personal experiences, however, she articulates a woman’s crystallized determination to struggle through the precariousness of life.
By Mohammad Farhan, Aligarh Muslim University, in World Literature Today.