Last night 9 year old Naina revealed some of her hidden desires in life to her mother.
N: amma, you know what…. I have decided what I want to become when I grow up
G: really, what do you want to be?
N: I want to become a Bollywood actress !
Gauri was quite taken aback ..first she wanted to blurt out laughing and then she suddenly wanted to shout and then cry …..not knowing what would have been a better way to respond to her lil daughter's declaration, she tried to maintain her calm fighting the myriad thoughts that flashed through her mind in those few seconds between her response to young Naina
G : Why is that ?
N : I think they are really coool
G: What do you mean by cool?
N : Oh, that means they do lots of fun things, hangout in places like beaches, shopping malls etc with their friends and they DO NOT go out with their parents
Such a direct blow, the parent in Gauri was shattered, wouldn’t she possibly be her lil girl's best friend and not so much a motherly influence when she is a bit older? Swallowing her injured pride, Gauri decided to reason out and discourage Naina from such fanciful dreamy ambitions.
G: But you know what ..I don’t think actresses are so cool, they don’t always do the things that they want to do, in fact they rarely do anything that they really want to do ..they only do what the directors tell them to do.. so it is not so much fun really. Besides, people only like the way they look and they always talk horrible things behind their back,..actually most people think actresses are dumb
Naina didn't quite like her mother's opinion, maybe a little challenged but she tried to defend her understanding
N : Dumb ? does it mean not intelligent. So is Katrina Kaif dumb ? What about Vidya Balan – isn’t she intelligent ?
G: I don’t think Katrina Kaif is intelligent . Nor is Vidya Balan…Yes..dumb means not intelligent ..and that isn’t cool, right?
Naina's face fell. Gauri thought she was starting to partially win her battle of prejudices but soon discovered that young Naina wasn’t to be deterred, where there is a will there surely is some way!!
N : Ok , do you think then I can be an actress and a writer too. Writers are intelligent, right ?
Well, that’s what is called a boomerang coming from the offspring of parents who are passionate about literature!
G : I don’t think so dear, its not so easy to be all that , Actresses normally don’t become writers. You have to really work very very hard for that..
N : See .. for that all you need to do is go to bollywood, that is in Mumbai ..amma, do people other than actors stay in Bollywood ? Can I go to Bollywood ? Don’t you think I can act well, see like this ..
Naina donned some unusual facial expressions, fluttering her eyes and snapping her lil fingers in the air across her face like a celluloid diva.
That’s it, Gauri couldn’t take it anymore………..she was slogging her life only for this kid to become an actress of all the choices in the world! She did not mind so much when Naina as a 4 year old had declared that she wanted to join the circus, neither did she get uncomfortable when her lil girl wanted to be a teacher when she was 7 years fully knowing that her husband who hails from a family of teachers will not particularly appreciate adding one more teacher to his fold having had an overdose of them already in his life.
Certainly this is not what Gauri wanted from her only child. It is probably true that she did not do or become all those things that her own parents wanted for her many years ago !! But isn’t this too senseless an aspiration that Naina has opted for, even to offer any kind of poetic justice????
Gathering her wits but still unsure how to tackle it, Gauri whined inside while trying to tactically approach the situation and avoid an offensive.
G: You are only 9 years, too young to really know what you want to do later in life, so we will talk about this later. It is not necessary that you know at this point what you are really good at and what you want to become in life later. You must concentrate on your studies and on any arts or sports etc which you can learn now and this will help you decide later what is best for you..
N: But amma, my teacher has told us that if children dream of something, parents must help them achieve them. Do not spoil my dreams, for my dreams are under your wings. Its not only engineers or managers like you who do well in life, even artists, writers, sportsmen and actors become successful. So you and acha have to help me reach my dreams ……
Naina's words reminded Gauri of a few famous lines from her favorite Irish poet, WB Yeats - “But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”
G : Yes , when the time comes we will talk and we will help you also. Now do what you must to build your foundation. Let’s switch off the lights now and go to sleep, tomorrow you have to go to the summer camp and amma has to go to office.
Kissing her goodnight, Gauri retired to her bed trying to chase slumber but Naina's profound words continued to tuck at her heart strings, ‘Do not spoil my dreams, for my dreams are under your wings’ ... She knew Naina may brush this current fascination to become an actress under the carpet in some time once she fancies something else but Gauri also realised this was only a beginning of testing times for her as a mother....this was nothing but a premature curtain raiser of more inevitable conversations to come when her daughter shall soon step into the enigma of teenage in a couple of years from now !