A Roll of the Dice by Mona Dash

Author: 

The cover to A Roll of the Dice by Mona DashLondon. Linen Press. 2019. 302 pages.

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. 

Mohammad Farhan 
Aligarh Muslim University

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