Ma is Scared

and other stories

Format: Paperback
Book type: Short Story Collection
ISBN-13: 9781912697663
Published: 15 Jun 2023


RRP: £9.99

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An anxious mother waits for her daughter to return from work, while deflecting comments from judgmental neighbours...

A chance encounter with an old college friend triggers the memory of a cruel trap once set for a young student, just because of her caste...

In the middle of a lecture on the legacies of sexual abuse, a woman feels the weight of a whole lifetime suddenly pressing down on her...

The stories in Anjali Kajal’s debut collection draw us into the lives of ordinary women in Northern India, making us realise quite how rarely we witness these experiences from Dalit points of view. Whether combating the caste-based disdain of colleagues at work or in the classroom or enduring the new blows that the pandemic landed on Dalit communities, Anjali’s characters find a resilience and a dignity that we can all learn from.


Praise for Ma is Scared

‘ These stories are about small, normal and tender things in women’s life in India. In India, this small is invisible, normal is abnormalised and tender is mocked. In their own ways, these stories are revolutionary.’ — Yogesh Maitreya

‘ Kajal’s work evokes caste as it is truly experienced across the subcontinent: amorphous, endemic and ubiquitous. The insecurities, fears and defiance that encapsulate what it means to be a Dalit woman shine through.’ — Yashica Dutt


Anjali Kajal 

Born in 1978, Anjali Kajal is a short-story writer from Ludhiana, Punjab. Her stories have been published in various literary magazines and publications, including the renowned Hindi monthly magazine Hans. In 2003, she was honoured by Jallandhar for her contribution to Hindi literature.

Translated by Kavita Bhanot

Kavita Bhanot is editor of The Book of Birmingham and Too Asian, Not Asian Enough. Her work has been published, performed and broadcast widely, including the landmark essay ‘Decolonise not Diversify’.

See Comma Press and Tilted Axis Press: Dual Book Launch event HERE


‘A deeply-felt call to action,’ - Asian Review of Books 

‘These are stories that do not leave you easy, but they also tend to surprise you with their refusal to go too far down the dark road.’ Annie Zaidi in Known Turf.

‘Marriage, Motherhood and Societal Duties’ Ma is Scared reviewed and Kavita Bhanot interviewed in The Publishing Post.

‘[Kajal’s prose] paints evocative, true-to-life portraits of womanhood and motherhood at the intersections of various identities in a modern India that is still holding on to outdated notions and ideas in the name of tradition.' -