About the author

Zehra Naqvi is an author, independent journalist and mother.

Her memoir The Reluctant Mother: A Story No One Wants To Tell (Hay House) is now available in bookstores and online.

Zehra has been writing for over a decade on literature, gender and socio-political issues and has been published in national and international publications such as Reader’s Digest, Indian Express, The Hindu, The Wire, Outlook, The Quint, Financial Chronicle, Child Magazine, Women’s Web and others. She is a quadruple gold medallist in journalism from Aligarh Muslim University.

Zehra has been featured in the RBTC list of 100 Most Inspiring Women from Uttar Pradesh, and appeared on Rajya Sabha TV in a documentary on Women Achievers from Uttar Pradesh. She has appeared on international radio as well, speaking on gender justice.

She is the winner of the I.N.S.P.I.R.E Writer of the Year Award for 2020 as well as 2021. 

The Reluctant Mother, her first book, is a memoir that narrates the story of three years of her life, from the time that she conceived her son. It is a book that speaks of a woman’s struggles with early and unexpected motherhood, a book that challenges all established notions and speaks of the truths that society wants you to be silent about. The book deals with multiple themes- love, marriage, career aspirations, sexual desire, financial problems- all of them interwoven with the larger theme of womanhood and early motherhood.

It is the story of one woman, yet the voice of many.


14 thoughts on “About the author

  1. Hi Zehra,

    I think it’s brave of you to write your story of grappling with motherhood. I think it’s brave because this is considered to be such a taboo subject. Every woman in the world is supposed to go ‘aw’ when she sees a baby, she’s supposed to have this innate desire to reproduce and she’s supposed to have a natural maternal instinct. I have never felt any of that. Yes, I do like some babies and I do sometimes think that one day, perhaps I would want children of my own. But it’s just not a priority for me at the moment and I don’t feel like it will be any time soon. Also, if and when I do have children, I’m pretty sure nothing will come ‘naturally’ to me, I’ll have to learn things and I will have both good and bad times.

    On a slightly different, but connected, note, if you want to feel more positive about having a baby, read this blog written by a feminist on how you can actually do things while also looking after a baby, contrary to popular belief that a baby is the end of personal life/ambition – http://www.mylatestobsession.org.uk/2013/01/. It made me think more positively about having children later in life.

    Good luck with everything!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Asiya,
      First of all thanks for understanding. I guess I just expected people to be disgusted with me for not being the doting mother who thinks motherhood is the best thing in life. Although babies are delightful, they are completely exhausting. Mine drains all the energy out of me and this is the best way I found to express. About the ‘natural’ part though, I think it WILL come naturally to you. It did to me, and I used to think I would be a hopeless mother! I think I’m a great mother because I’ve done every single thing recommended by WHO, lolz! I breastfed my baby exclusively for 6 months even though people kept pressing me to give a bottle, i used cloth nappies for 4 months and didnt use diapers etc etc….its a whole list. That’s where the difference lies, though. I’m a caring mom, just not one who thinks that motherhood is the be all and end all of life,
      And about the link you directed me to, Its nice and inspiring, but you know, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’;s good to give positive inspiring ideas for the future, but I’m living this thing. Going through the blog gave me the same feeling that others do—- be positive, dont crib, dont complain etc etc. It made me feel insufficient for not being happy and thankful about the blessing that I have in my life. Sorry, I can’t be. That’s just me.


  2. Zehra,
    You are so brave to write honestly about your experiences as a new mom and your childbirth experiences. I respect you for your decision write your truth. You have such a wonderful way of using details in your writing to make me feel tenderness, beauty, love, fear, frustration and more. Although my experiences were mostly positive, I know your stories will resonate with many. Keep sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Kathi. I loved your blog because you love your kids so much and yet are ready to give them their ow space. That’s the kind of mother I’d like to be. My experience would have been positive, too, if only I’d been prepared for it. And the other, major factor is that I’m having to live away from my partner and that makes me miserable. I’m really really hoping this will change soon and then hopefully you’ll get to read more positive blog posts! Thanks again for reading and appreciating!


      • Dear Kathi, I’m flattered by your question! I’m not so sure about publishing in book form, I mean obviously I’d love that, but you are a great blogger yourself, please give me an honest assessment: is this good enough to be considered for that? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


      • Hello Zehra,
        I am really enjoying the content of your posts. I think Canadians are particuliarly interested in other cultures. When you add the beliefs of your culture with your unique experiences around pregnancy, childbirth, relationships – common events that show us we aren’t so different – it makes for very interesting reading. I like the clarity of your voice. I think you should seriously consider it. Best Wishes!


  3. AMU was shut down due to the swine flu outbreak for the past 10 days. I was feeling heartbroken at having to go back to Aligarh tomorrow and feeling that wave of depression hit, which is the atmosphere of Aligarh, and attending class after class again.
    And then I came across a link to your blog. I’ve never read it before. I started from Chapter 20 and read it in reverse till the beginning. Trust me, I was very horrified at some of the details of your experience of child birth. But I was so engaged, I couldn’t stop reading.
    Your descriptive writing allowed me to understand exactly what you felt and I was very overwhelmed. I had no idea that the journey could be so traumatic and ecstatic, both! Thank you so much for penning this down. I’m never going to forget this and I will wait for you to write more on this.
    And yes, you should compile all this in a book. I’ll be one of the first buyers holding out the book for you to autograph it. I’m a fan, Bhabi! Love you for being so real and true. ☺️


    • Dear Hira,
      Your comment just made me feel all warm inside. Thank you for all the compliments! I’m glad you could feel what I wrote. When I started writing I was so low down on life… and I didn’t even know if anybody would want to hear the rants of a frustrated wife and mom. And more than anything I wondered how much people would judge me, how terrible I’d appear to be. But when sweet people like you come up and say such wonderful things I feel so loved and so elated. You are a wonderful person. Thank you!


  4. Dear Zehra, I am so happy to read your experiences. I delivered in the same hospital as you early this year, and share so many memories. Believe me, no one talks about the difficulty of labour and motherhood, and sometimes I think that is right because if they did tell the honest truth, i would be scared to death about the experience :). There was a point in the labour room, when the nurse asked me to push, only then “I can have my beautiful child”. I screamed back saying “I don’t want a baby anymore” to the amusement and surprise of all. Yes, my mother in law, husband and mother all took turns in the labour room, The doctors dont mind unless we start “telling them what to do”.

    I do realize the importance of ‘mother’ being with you through the first couple of months. Without her I would be dead. She was the only one doing for me without ‘expectations’ of me or the baby. She did not want my praise nor gratitude. Such selfless service! I would be happy if I can be half as good as her in my lifetime.

    You certainly do have a knack of penning things beautifully.I pray that God provides the best for you and your family.

    Sincerely, NG


    • Dear Nanditha,
      It’s so good of you to show your solidarity! I can understand how you would have screamed about not wanting a baby! That moment is just so horrendous that one is almost in a state of delirium. And yes, mothers are always the best… and someday Iam sure your kid would say the same about you. Wish you all the best in life. Thanks for your kind words!


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