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A Roll of the Dice by Mona Dash

Reviewed by Ghada Ibrahim  

A Roll of the Dice is a book that resonates with sadness and joy; altogether an amalgamation of ardent fervor, a mother’s love, and the world’s gentle sway in the direction of good fortune. It is a story of motherhood and resilience and the power of hope. Mona Dash’s memoir narrates her ill-fortune of being a genetic carrier of the Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) virus – a fact she learned the hard way: losing her first born to it.  

Despite this, Mona is determined to pursue motherhood. With several odds stacked against her and stacked high, she gambles with life for another chance and wins. Determined in her pursuit, Mona leaves her hometown and moves to London to start afresh. Surrounded by better medical resources and an even stronger determination, she leaps into the world of maternity, hoping and praying for a miracle.  

Once I picked up the book, I could not put it down. Nose glued between the pages while commuting to work, on buses and in cabs, every fortunate moment I had to myself was spent burrowing deep into this courageous and heart-touching story. The memoir plucked at my heart and took me on a journey of humor, grief, and palpable excitement. With every new development in Mona’s life as a mother-to-be, the story grew on me. 

Mona’s hope to conceive and raise a child who could potentially lead a normal life took her from India to London on a toilsome journey which lasted an entire decade. Her story is the clearest depiction of the unpredictability of life; of how situations can bounce between numbing joy and crippling sadness. Some of the many lines that stuck with me from the book are “They say that grief is like a little stone in your shoe. You don’t always feel it but you know it’s there, ever-present and, from time to time, it bites into your soul to remind you that all isn’t well.”  

In moving to London, Mona found a new home which was what she needed the most to begin anew. While being a difficult decision to uproot from one’s homeland, it was not the case with Mona. She writes, “the freedom I felt was the manna I craved.” Despite migrating to a completely foreign land and diving headfirst into a culture that stood poles apart from India, the warmth and love received from people made her feel like she belonged. During the strenuous and endless hospital visits, she developed unbreakable bonds with doctors and nurses who despite being surrounded by illness, disease, and death, displayed a warmth she had hardly experienced back home.  

At the peak of her misery, Mona never gave up hope. From struggling with endometriosis and sitting through fertility checks to juggling her job and a premature child at the brink of death, her resolve shone through like a beacon in the dark. Devoid of self-pity and chockful of fearlessness, Mona’s story serves as a guide and solace for parents experiencing infertility, dealing with premature infants or children with SCID.  

It is powerful, enriching and an explosion of emotions that envelope you in a fierce embrace. It is a story that is bold and speaks its truth, loud and clear. From amongst the messages that one can take after traipsing down Mona’s memory lane is the need for being thankful, for friends whom you can call upon in times of desperate need, for continuous advancements in medicine, for the gift of being normal.  

Ghada Ibrahim is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Psychology. Aside from being an avid reader immersing herself in the literary world, she likes to live with no regrets. She has been blogging and writing since the age of 15 and aspires to become a published author one day to share her love for all things literary with the rest of the world.