Rising Daughter, Silent Mother and Fading Grandmothers is the outcome of organic research by the author, Rekha Govindan Kurup, a modern-day, city-bred daughter of Kerala, India, who has set out to redefine, reclaim and re-inform her relationship with body and sexuality through the discovery and investigation of matrilineal Nayar practices. Rekha did not grow up in a traditional Nayar matrilocal joint family, but instead she lived with her father, mother, and sibling in a nuclear home like many women of her generation. Her mother too, did not grow up in a matrilineal family. However, most of her grandmother’s generation was born in matrilineal Kerala and grew up in a matrilocal and matrifocal system.
In conversations with her mother and grandmothers, Rekha makes an effort to reconnect with the matrilineal past of Kerala, its history, the lived experience of women within that system, and most importantly, the female-centered rituals practiced within the system that empowered the fruitful blossoming of a young girl into an adult woman. Through her narration, it becomes apparent that in the last century, Kerala made the shift from a sexually open socially safe mother-centered joint-family matrilineal life to a sexually uptight, socially unsafe, father-centered patrilineal nuclear family culture. In the backdrop of rising violence towards women, her research forces the reader to ask some relevant questions: Could the matrilineal past of Kerala have some unexplored answers for the younger generation of men and women around the world? Could the stories of mothers and grandmothers from yesteryears collectively guide us towards building a better and safe world for our daughters?