I was interested to read this book because I love Shobna Gulati as an actress and also because my own mother is showing some signs of dementia. Reading this book made me love and admire Shobna even more, she’s amazing!
The story begins with some background about Shobna’s family, how her parents had married in 1959 then moved from India to England. Shobna was born in Oldham in 1966. It shows how her mother Asha had a traditional upbringing, an arranged marriage after being sent to college to learn Home Science – a course which taught skills women were thought to need for their future, including sewing, home nursing, laundry theory and household management.
We follow the story of Asha through Shobna’s eyes as she goes through her life. Shobna becomes her full-time carer as the dementia takes hold. We learn about Shobna’s life and career throughout the book, but the emphasis is always on the mother she loved. We see the turn-around from mother looking after daughter to daughter caring for mother. Shobna writes about this in a very straight-forward and honest way. She also had to share the caring duties with her siblings, who often had different ideas, which caused some conflict between them. Asha became the centre of Shobna’s life as her mother’s health deteriorated.
However, the book covers so much besides the dementia and the change in relationship between mother and daughter that has to follow the diagnosis. We see how immigration changed the family, how their religious background affected them, the inherent cultural sexism (where the girls did all the housework), how the family were racially abused and how Shobna had to cope with the loss of her father, amongst other personal difficulties as an adult. It certainly shows how strong Shobna had to be, to cope with it all!
My tiny criticisms of the book are that the text in the paperback is a bit small and I would have liked a photo section, but overall, it is an excellent book and will be incredibly valuable for anyone going through a similar experience, as well as being an important and moving read for everyone.
DISCOVERING MY MOTHER AS SHE LOST HER MEMORY
7 JULY 2022
A heartbreakingly courageous and tender memoir on losing a parent to dementia which captures memory at its most fragile and its most revealing from much-loved actress, Shobna Gulati
‘Shobna Gulati is the Northern heroine of a nation’ – Lemn Sissay
‘Lucid and probing’ – Guardian
‘Wonderful and emotional, a masterpiece of resilience.’ – Emma Kennedy
Afterword by Alzheimer’s Research
Remember Me? captures the powerful emotions that these memories hold to both Shobna and her mother; secrets they had collectively buried and also the concealment of her mother’s condition. What ensues is a story of cultural assimilation, identity and familial shame.
Shobna sets out to reclaim her mother’s past after her death, and in turn, discovers a huge amount about herself and their relationship.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shobna became a household name for her role as Anita in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies and as Sunita, in Coronation Street. She also appeared as a presenter on Loose Women (ITV), and most starred in Series 1 of the BBC One television show River Walks. On radio, Shobna hosted her own late night show on BBC Radio Manchester, and has appeared in many plays for BBC Radio 4, most recently in the sitcom ‘The Break’.
She trained at Manchester University, Trinity Laban Conservatorie of Music and Dance, Goldsmith’s College, London, Darpana Academy for Performing Arts, India, and has also completed a post graduate diploma in teaching dance from Middlesex University.
Shobna has just finished filming the role of Ray in the upcoming feature film Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.