Image: Eva Navarro, Mother and Son, 2014, acrylic on board, 40 X 40cm.
This month we’re turning to our archives for international stories of parents and children. Tales of widowed fathers, ambivalent couples, vengeful mothers, and more reveal both the specific and universal challenges of raising children in complex times. Argentine sensation Samanta Schweblin finds an unexpected solution to an unplanned event. Iranian Kader Abdollah’s stoic father faces a parent’s worst fear. In two looks at fathers and daughters, Finland’s Shimo Suntila tracks a day in the life of a man and his two endlessly imaginative little girls, and Belgium’s Lize Spit watches an abandoned husband search for a cure for his toddler’s illness. Teresa Solana’s elderly widow cuts off her abusive son-in-law; Martha Batiz finds raising septuplets is not exactly seventh heaven. Charlotte-Arrisoa Rafenomanjato’s impoverished Malagasy widower struggles with his son’s innocent ambition. In Tibet under Mao, Pema Bhum’s disgraced party members are redeemed by their politically savvy infant. Syria’s Zaher Omareen relays history in a coded bedtime story. And in Brazil, Cristovão Tezza’s new father realizes his life truly never will be the same. Elsewhere, we present writing by Kazakh women, introduced by Shelley Fairweather-Vega.
Joyful, Painful, Surreal: Life As a Parent
The intensity of the parent-child relationship, with its high emotional stakes, life-and-death responsibility, and inescapable physical proximity, makes for powerful stories.
It’s difficult to accept the idea of receiving Teresita so soon, but I don’t want to hurt her, either.
Iranian author Kader Abdolah describes the plight of a father seeking a burial place for his murdered dissident son.
“We needed some liquid gold,” Milla says very seriously.
María Times Seven
It was by accident that Doña Toña decided to sell her daughters’ tears.
If she can’t see it, if it isn’t in the room, it doesn’t exist.
A Stitch in Time
As we were intending to cut him into small chunks, we thought it would be less stressful if he were bandaged.
A Bedtime Story for Eid
He said they’d taken Omar away naked.
from “The Eternal Son”
The most brutal morning of his life started with interrupted sleep.
It seemed to them as if the Chairman were sharing with them a playful and secret sign.
Lehilahy tells his son that he must work harder in order to succeed, that knowledge is not easily attained.
Reviewed by Meghan Forbes
Reviewed by Kasia Szymanska