“When my daughters say they are both Hindu and Muslim, people tell them that’s impossible,” shares Natasha Badhwar, columnist and author and my former colleague from NDTV. Mother of three she is a kind of parent some of us struggle to be. Over the years, she has written personal stories, honest to the bone about experiences, dilemmas, confrontations, mothering and love.
“Aliza was in a beauty salon, getting a haircut, when the hairstylist noticed her name and asked her if she was a ‘Mohammedan’. Aliza did not understand the question. She looked at me to ask what he meant. ‘He is asking if you are a Muslim,’ I said to her. Aliza looked up at him in the mirror and nodded a yes. Seven-year-old Naseem felt the need to elaborate. ‘We are Hindu and Muslim,’ she said. ‘You cannot be both. You can be one of the two,’ said the hairstylist. ‘But we are,’ said Naseem. ‘Mamma, we are both Hindu and Muslim, right?’ She turned to me for confirmation. ‘You cannot be both,’ he repeated.” [Badhwar, Natasha. My Daughter’s Mum Part 1 S&S India]
Natasha was speaking at the SheThePeople Book Club, organised at Nowhere Terrace Brewpub Cafe in Gurgaon in conversation with me and Neela Kaushik of Gurgaon Moms. She started by sharing what inspired her to write the blog.
she has written personal stories, honest to the bone about experiences, dilemmas, confrontations, mothering and love
“I was in a beautiful place, newly married, two babies, tv job. Everything was working well but something was breaking inside,” Something was not okay and Natasha couldn’t figure it out. “I wanted to put my finger on it. Because my kids could see it. My parents were supporting me, my husband was supporting me, my workplace was fantastic, I could work from home but it was too tight at the seams. I began to write about it.”
My first blog entry says I have two daughters who I miss at work. I love my job. Let’s see how I figure out this conflict
The strong, go getter NDTV video journalist says behind the strong facade of the confident person was a mom who perhaps got weak inside at times. “My first blog entry says I have two daughters who I miss at work. I love my job. Let’s see how I figure out this conflict.” Then she started writing about the things children do, “the strange things that come natural to you” but didn’t quite know how to tell someone. “Like I put all the soft toys in the washing machine and how they came out and I put them all on the clothes line. And they were all so shiny. And looked beautiful against the sky. It was all these happy moments.”
Free spirited and bold, Natasha shared how she raises her children with many conversations on religion, identity, love, good touch, bad touch and more. “There is that relief that my daughter wouldn’t do anything that I haven’t already,” she explains remembering the times she used to walk back home all alone, in pitch darkness.
Natasha and I go back a couple of decades, getting fleeting glimpses of each other on twitter. I remember the first day I met her we were sitting side by side on what was called the input desk. She was jogging the edit machine frame by frame getting the headline right. It was her shift as headline editor. I was new. Not just to NDTV but to media as a whole. I was nervous that the headlines wouldn’t make it. She was calm. And telling me to relax with a smile. In many ways this book club catch up was similar. I am a new mom dealing with babies, work, feeding, digital addiction of a four year old along with a three month old baby in tow. This conversation was a great delve into parenting, over parenting and being okay with who and how we are.
Reporting by Shaili Chopra