I saw Jasmine performing for the first time last year in Mumbai. It was my first time at a spoken word performance and her words had me gripped. Here was a woman who held her own, and how. I almost blushed listening to parts of her piece sitting in my seat there. Jasmine’s poem was about 40-something women, who go on a blind date with their own souls. Who fall in love with themselves.

Picture by Jasmine Khurana

So you can imagine my delight when I was asked to conduct an interview with her given that her latest piece “My Six Yards are My Cape” is gaining traction all over the social media. The piece is about a midlife love story. Here’s a conversation that will tell you how Jasmine finds beauty and love in everyday life.

Let us start from your childhood. When I see a woman speaking out in public like that, I always want to know her roots…

I was born in Ludhiana. Papa was a lawyer and mom is a retired college Principal- throughout having taught English literature. She has always been my strongest influence. She was a feminist even before I knew the meaning of that word – working woman throughout who balanced it all. Papa was always a very witty, an extremely emotional and loving man. I always felt that being very emotional and the profession that he was in, he gave away parts of himself in fighting other people’s battles- something that over the years drained him, and affected his mental health.

 

How did you turn from an educator to spoken word artist? 

So when I got married, I was an Economics lecturer who went on to become the head mistress of one of the biggest chain of schools in India. My husband was, and still is, in a high-flying corporate role. We were both doing tremendously well on the career front, but then at one point I started feeling I was just running. All three of us were in fact. I need time to be myself and feed my soul with something creative for a few hours every day. So one fine morning I just decided to hang my boots.

We need to be us. Be it taking a sabbatical or surging ahead, I believe equal strength is required in both. I celebrated every day of my sabbatical of 10 years.

At that point that was what I wanted and I was clear. I believe equal strength is required to take a decision either ways- be it taking a sabbatical or surging ahead. And we women know how to take strong calls. Just let us be!

How was the sabbatical?

What I thought would be 2-4 years became ultimately 10 years. Wrong to call it a sabbatical actually because I soon realized I don’t want to go back to work. I’ve celebrated the sabbatical to the hilt.

Be it taking a sabbatical or surging ahead, I believe equal strength is required in both

This part of our lives needs more talking about. Like I have taken a sabbatical to be with my kids too, but that ate me from inside initially. I was constantly questioning what I was doing, and why I was doing it. I felt as if I was wasting my talent…

Also Read: Director Gazal Dhaliwal on being a girl trapped inside a boy

We need to be us. Be it taking a sabbatical or surging ahead, I believe equal strength is required in both. I celebrated every day of my sabbatical of 10 years.

For a few years I’ve just painted till my eyesight and back started giving me loaded hints. A phase where I loved cooking and trying out new cuisines. Not anymore. A phase where I loved watching leisurely mornings (after packing off the boys of course) just make way into the arms of warm afternoons.

I love that attitude! I have so much to learn…

More often than not, our 20s and 30’s are a roller-coaster, balancing careers, new relations coming our way, motherhood, homes and so much more. We have close-knit families. So there will be concerns and critiques. Often in love boundaries get overstepped and that’s when there is useless cacophony and noise. In wanting to perfect every relation we start losing parts of us.

For me writing is a therapy at times to heal myself, at times it’s to celebrate what I’ve overcome

Here I go by James Thurber’s quote, ‘Humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquillity.’ Hence the humour is the theme in most of my Spoken Word pieces and blogs.

Is this why you write and speak the way you do?

I don’t write ever as an influencer or to make an impact. Neither do I write fiction. It’s not my forte. For me writing is a therapy at times to heal myself, at times it’s to celebrate what I’ve overcome, at times it’s simply a funny perspective that makes me laugh out loudly.  I feel blessed that, it finds a connect with the readers and they find it serving the same purpose for them as it did for me.


And why do you write on Parenting?

Parenting again is a minefield. Early on we both realised that no books that I had lapped up and made him read too (yes I did that when I was expecting). But when actually into it, most of it was ‘out of syllabus’. Every parent-child equation is unique. Parenting is literally learning-on-the-go, hence the writing about our learning along the way.

Picture by Jasmine Khurana

And about your most popular piece with your son… I absolutely love it, and hope I can have that kind of relation where we joke about our arguments with my daughter!

Banter Between Generations’ connected across generations because that’s the story of every household tempered with humour and emotions where me and my son are in a light-hearted war of words. It is an open confession that teenage years are turbulent so despite fastened seat belts, there is enough shaking that will stir up the best of equations.

Ok… I have to ask this. How does your husband take all this attention you are getting? And your son? Coz you are making fun of *your* life in most of your pieces right….

As far as attention is concerned, must say he loves it more than me.  He better be because he was the one who set up my blog 10 years back. I was writing since forever but that was totally to feed my own soul. He is my sounding board, the best and worst critic too. That’s the way we are actually. Pulling each other’s legs, giving it back to each other, or bursting out laughing in the middle of a fight.

So what has changed with this spoken word, and what hasn’t?

Still a long way to go. We have grown up seeing deep-layered patriarchies where on the surface we profess gender equality- daughters are darlings, sisters are soul mates and confidantes, wives are all-in-all till the time they don’t talk about rights or shares. It is taken for granted that their roles are limited to being emotional anchors or wonderful partners. Beyond that everything is projected and coloured as a rebellion.

At times we as women, keep buying relations by mortgaging or forgoing what is our right. It has to be love and rights both. Not- either or!

And there, with that the lust has transformed into love. Go check her out on YouTube.

You will fall hard too!

Surbhi Rastogi is the Community and Outreach Editor at SheThePeople.TV

Email us at connect@shethepeople.tv