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Support from the sidelines

Shobhaa D', who needs hardly any introduction, is a well-known columnist, commentator, scriptwriter as well as the author of 14 books. Small wonder then that she prefers to describe herself as an “obsessive compulsive writer”. Even though she came from a conservative, middle-class Marathi family that didn’t stop her from taking up modelling during her college days.

Almost immediately after leaving college, Shobhaa married into Mumbai’s famous Kilachand family. Two children followed. And her passion for writing only intensified. It wasn’t long before she became editor of Stardust, which went on to become under her guidance, the country’s largest-selling English magazine of the time. While her first marriage ended in divorce, Shobhaa strongly believes in the institution and sees it as an adventure, a development of trust and companionship. She got married for the second time to Dilip D', and four more children followed. Today, a devoted and dedicated wife, Shobhaa is nearing 60, but age isn’t really stealing a march over her beauty, stamina and sharpness of mind.

Shobhaa’s daughter, 20-year-old Arundhati is a B.Com student at Mumbai’s H R College. She loves to travel ' Goa is her favourite destination ' and is a self-confessed movie freak. The youngest member of the D' family is Anindita. All of 16 years, she is studying in the first year of junior college and loves music besides spending time with her family.

Shobhaa:

My daughters are my real treasure. I enjoyed every minute of their upbringing. Through them, I get connected with their world ' their thinking process, their tastes, everything. They are much more progressive and optimistic than my generation.

They were not exceptionally naughty in their childhood, neither were they exceptionally well-behaved (thank God!). Remembering one particular incident, my heart stops even today. It was in San Francisco. Arundhati was seven and Anindita was three. We went to a toy store, which was very crowded as it was Easter weekend. While shopping, I suddenly realised that I could not see my girls. Then I discovered they were trying to come down the escalator from the opposite direction. I slapped them in front of every one. It was my expression of relief.

Arundhati is a true Leo ' fiery, stubborn, and with leadership qualities. Anindita’s star sign is Pisces and expectedly, she’s a dreamer, gentle and lovable. I don’t like to impose anything on my girls. I respect their minds, and their choices. I have allowed them to flower in their own space. I just guide them. As a mother, I can judge what they are good at, that’s all. I’ve told them if you don’t learn to respect your body, other people won’t respect it. This is the way I’ve taught them about sex. The only time I lose my cool with them is when they use my cell phone after finishing their phone quota.

I had my first child 31 years ago. My family is always my first priority. I used to work from home so that my kids did not miss me. I am as tuned in with my daughters as they are tuned in with me. Arundhati is arty and sporty, a rare combination. She is earnest and sincere. Even for a small school project, she tries to the best of her ability. Anindita needs to be motivated. Both of them are differently tuned. They don’t always get along. They fight over a can of Diet Coke or any petty issue and I am asked to interfere. And it is so difficult to be a neutral mother. This generation is smart and prudent. But they lack some sort of creative restlessness and hunger for life.

Both of them have a very good eye for detail. They may even become good writers one day. In many cases, Arundhati suggests headlines for my articles, criticises my points. I believe they will enjoy entertainment and media as a profession. But it is upto them. Regarding their marriage I must say they have to marry for the right reason, for the right person and at the right time. I’ll definitely guide them if they ask me at all. I love them just the way they are. Not only are they loving daughters, they are good human beings as well.

Arundhati:

My mom is someone who has always understood me, and my needs. I won’t say she is very strict ' she’s fairly strict. More than a mother and daughter, we are like two friends. She is the first person I share my emotions with, no matter how insignificant. She is very close to me. Although she is very busy with her various projects, she is always there when I need her. For my birthday, she pulls out all the stops, organising a special meal with all my favourite dishes, having a Satyanarayan puja, as well as loads of other surprises. My mother loves to celebrate the special occasions in our lives.

Whenever mom travels, one of us always accompanies her. I guess she feels comfortable with her kids around. When it comes to our dressing up, she is not very rigid though at times, she says ‘your dad is going to have a heart attack’.

My mom is a workaholic. Her unbelievable energy level in fact upsets me at times. She doesn’t like to waste even a minute while I like to take it easy and relax.

My mom is usually very cool. It’s only when I lose her jewellery or break her favourite things, which invariably happens whenever I wear her ornaments, that she loses her temper. She is also very frank and liberal ' I can tell her any secret. Only when she’s out of town and I return home late, I don’t let her in on it. Unfortunately, my younger sister does. My mom’s the best in the world. She’s always been supportive of whatever I’ve done so far and most importantly, has always given me my space. She is a complete woman of substance.

Anindita:

Mom is my best friend. I can talk to her very easily. She gets upset if I lie to her. But despite all the proximity we share, mom knows where to draw the line and keeps a check on me. She doesn’t really nag at me when it comes to my studies and homework. But yes, she ensures that I utilise my time to the fullest. The best thing about her is that she knows how to strike a balance between work and her kids.

My mother encourages me in whatever I do. While she’s very hardworking, she always manages to find the time for everything. This is something that I admire a great deal. I depend on my mom a lot ' she is my pillar of strength. What I admire most about my mother is that she is a very down-to-earth person. And more than a mother, she’s my closest friend as well.

Photograph by Pabitra Das

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