The vicious grip of superstition over people, and the general indifference in society to the plight of its victims, is both infuriating and baffling.
Call it destiny or what you will but My World takes shape on the date on which – many, many years ago – I was born. I can (and naturally so) remember nothing of that momentous rain-drenched evening where I catapulted into the world four to five weeks before my due date, but my family has never forgotten it. How could they as they watched me grow from a 2.2 pounder into a ‘pleasantly healthy’ adult!
My World – how narcissistic, you might think. But this space and what will go to fill it is far from it. Over the last few decades – if not more – my physical, emotional and mental world has been peopled with a plethora of experiences, memories and, of course… people. This has not only been due to events of my personal life but has been due in large to the workings of my professional world.
From the time I joined my profession as a fledging journalist to today where I find myself – due to the weight of time and experience – in the rank of senior editors, I have experienced a multi-hued world that another calling may not have put me into. In a way it is a humbling profession where you realise the power of the pen; in other ways it is something that can make you learn, grow at almost every turn in the road.
For ever since I can remember and that is more years than I would like to reveal publicly – after all, my heart is still a sweet 21 – my life has been touched by some of the most wonderful people who have made me what I am – by gifting me memories and lessons, some large, others smaller but no less significant. My World will take them out, one by one, sometimes more….
One of the first ‘names’ whom I encountered as a rookie was Anupam Kher – the actor who has featured in countless films from the time he made his first appearance in Saaransh. His book The Best Thing About You Is You has shown that he is equally adept with the pen as he is on screen. He has said that he has many more chapters in his head, so one is looking forward to more of the same.
Among the many times I met Anupam professionally, two stand out. The first time happened when the rains drenched the cityscape. I had to interview the actor at distant Kamalistan. Mobiles were not invented then. On the morning of the interview, it was pouring outside and I was rushing to make it on time, when my land line rang. I picked it up and was surprised to find Anupam at the other end. “Don’t come out so far in the rains,” he said considerately, worrying about how the newly-minted journalist would trudge out. “Meet me day after tomorrow at Mehboob Studio.” Can you wonder why I have not been able to forget his thoughtfulness in a world where the quality is so rare?
Years after I had moved into another sphere of journalism I was on the same flight to IIFA, Sri Lanka. Anupam, walking down the aisle, spotted me, sat down and began to chat. “How old is your daughter now?” he asked, recalling the last we had spoken about her, the last time we met, years ago. “Nineteen? Has it been so long ago that we met?” he said, reinforcing the fact that time had flown. I promised to myself then that I would not lose touch with this actor and gentleman. And it is a promise that I hope I will keep.
For it is people like him who make My World such an interesting place to be in. More of them, next time.
Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena, currently Executive Editor, VERVE magazine, is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who has interacted with a wide spectrum of people