What Anna Jarvis, an ordinary woman from the US, started 113 years ago, is internationally recognised as Mother’s Day. Her mother, Ann Jarvis, a peace activist, passed away on the second Sunday of May.
In 1914, the US President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation officially recognising the second Sunday of May as a national holiday to celebrate motherhood.This Mother’s Day, Indulge, asked a few mothers about the exciting, life-changing and, at times, tumultuous adventure called motherhood. Some daughters, too, pitched in.
Read on to discover and have a happy Mother’s day, too.
Dona Ganguly, Odisi exponent and wife of former Indian cricket captain, Sourav Ganguly
I have put motherhood ahead of everything in my life. Everything else takes a backseat, when it comes to my daughter, Sana. Till she was 16, I used to be there for her always. Except for one or two occasions, I have always dropped her to school and brought her home.
Now she is 17 and doesn’t need me at every step. I feel very happy that she is trying to be independent, since in another few years she will be going abroad for higher studies, where she has to manage everything on her own.
I was also the only daughter of my parents and have not yet grown out of it. I still feel uneasy if my mother doesn’t accompany me to my dance tours. She takes care of everything, whether it’s my make-up, hair or costumes.
But I want Sana to be more self-sufficient than I am, she should know how to survive on her own. I want to ensure that she is not careless and remains humble and kind. She gets a lot of freehand when it comes to spending money, but she has to keep a tab on expenditure.
Sana Ganguly, daughter of Sourav Ganguly and Dona Ganguly
My mother is my backbone, my support system and my best friend. The values I have were inculcated by my mother. I have learnt from her how to behave and carry myself in public and how to be polite and gracious.
There has been not a single day in my life when I needed my mother and she was not there for me. Despite running a dance school and travelling with her dance troupe, she has taken utmost care of me.
Nilanjanaa Sengupta, actor, producer
It would be a lie to say being a mother is a cakewalk. There are more bad days than good days. One is always walking a tight rope.
I am 24/7 on my toes, and my quest for perfection, sometimes adds to the stress more. I have seen my mother (Actress Anjana Bhowmik) leaving her career and settling down in Mumbai to rear us. We never realised she was an actress till we were 10-11 years old.
She once told me that career, money and fame are all transient but how one brings up their children is all that matters in the end. I have tried to follow her example. I will be lying if I say I don’t miss Mumbai and the work opportunities there, but Kolkata has given me Jisshu (husband), Sara (elder daughter) and Zara (younger daughter).
I am a hands-on mother and it’s not a big deal, since all mothers do the same thing for their children. My children, Sara, 5, and Zara, 12, are very blessed to be living with their grandparents.
We never thought Sara will act in a film so soon – she is featuring in Srijit Mukherji’s film Uma that will release in June – but we are more proud of the way she conducted herself on the sets. Everybody, from actors to technicians, said she was a well-behaved girl.
I am glad that like my mother and I, Sara, too, feels for the street dogs and feeds the mongrels in front of her school. I want this legacy of goodness to continue.
Sara Sengupta, daughter of actors Nilanjanaa and Jisshu Sengupta
I am inspired by my mother’s love for animals and nature and the way she respects people. When she was in college she learnt glass painting and she is very artistic. Zara and I have picked it up from her.
In our old home there are many glass windows that we painted. I love momos, chilli chicken and pasta cooked by mom and I bake yummy cakes with her. When we are together we chat and listen to songs.
The biggest lesson that I have learnt from her is to be nice to people always.
She scolds me at times, too, but is also my confidante.
Tanusree Shankar, danseuse and actor
I had a very complicated pregnancy. I first left Mishtu (Sreenanada Shankar) and went on a tour when she was only three. But most of the time (husband) Ananda Shankar and I used to take her along. Ananda used to joke that she will be strong in geography.
From a very tender age, she developed a cosmopolitan outlook. Ananda’s untimely demise took us along a hair-pin bend in our lives. Mistu was only 18, a very vulnerable age, and she wanted to pursue acting. At that time actor and politician Sunil Dutt helped us a lot and so did our friend, Naren Shetty (Shilpa Shetty’s uncle).
With help of our friends, she settled in Mumbai in a tiny little room as a paying guest and got enrolled in Roshan Taneja’s acting school. I missed her but I wanted her to be independent.
Later, she also went for an acting workshop at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York on an education loan. All this taught her to struggle hard and carve a niche on her own. She learnt at an early age to manage budgets. I never taught her anything in particular, but I guess a child picks up what she witnesses. She saw me strike a balance between dance and personal life.
Sreenanda Shankar, actor, dancer and makeover consultant
When my mother used to go on dance tours, sometimes I used to stay with my grandmothers. My mom sacrificed her acting career and gave dance more importance so that she could spend more time with me, which I wish she hadn’t done.
But she has no regrets and I feel now that dance is her life and only passion. I think none has taken dance forward in our family like she did. She has always told me that it’s a big bad world, but how the world responds to you, depends upon how you are as a person.
She taught me that if one maintains dignity, whatever the situation is, no one can mess with that person. There was never any pressure from her to be a dancer and I could pursue what I love because of her.
Rituparna Sengupta, actress
I am not always a hands-on mother, but the feelings of motherhood are the same. As a mother I had to sacrifice a lot due to the pressing demands of my career.
We live only once and I need to fulfil my aspirations. But at the same time, I did not think twice before getting married, when I was at the pinnacle of my career, and neither did I delay motherhood.
I always wanted two children and I am grateful to God that he fulfilled my wish. Many people think I am workaholic. Sometimes I feel guilty that I miss out many moments as my daughter Rishona Niya (7) is growing up, but balancing between home and work is extremely important. In this age, if one doesn’t learn to multitask, one does not get his or her dues.
I remember once, when I was pregnant with Rishona, I was shooting the last leg of a film in Goa. Suddenly I got a call from home that there is a parent-teacher meeting at my son Ankan’s school. I took the early morning hopping flight next day, went straight to his school, attended the meeting and flew back to Goa to complete shooting on the very same day.
That is how I keep balancing things. I always make it a point to collect Rishona’s report cards from school, attend all the school meetings, dress her up for school functions and devote my spare time to her. Rishona is extremely understanding despite her tender age.
Once I had returned home after two days of shooting and fell asleep as I was very tired. Rishona tiptoed into my room and said, “Mamma, this is me, I want to see you, I haven’t seen you for two days. I missed you so much”.
Ankan is now studying in Singapore and stays with his dad. At times, he and his dad get grumpy that they don’t get to see me often. But I try to be with my son during his exams.
I have never scolded them unreasonably but I strictly impart family values in them. They must know all their family members and respect elders besides having empathy for all. If my children are kind to all, I will know that I have fulfilled my duty as a mother successfully.
Indrani Dutta, actor, dancer
I had a fledgling dance school before my daughter was born. Since I got married at 21, filmmakers assumed that I won’t be acting. Since I could not canvass for work, I thought of concentrating on dance. I have a dance troupe and I had to travel a lot. But despite the commitments, Chini (Rajnandini Paul) has been my priority.
Whenever I left for concerts or tours, I ensured there were always house full of people to surround Chini, including a pair of nannies and grandparents.
She is an adult now and is going to debut in films this year, but she will always be this little girl. I have never taught her anything in particular, but always tried to set an example by the way I conduct myself.
Unlike my parents, who were conservative and never really liked that I acted in films, I have always supported her.
Rajnandini Paul, daughter of Indrani Dutta
I never sat down and had long conversation with my mother. She never had the time since she was deeply involved with her dance school and troupe. But I have learnt many things just by watching her.
She is extremely disciplined and punctual. She has taught me to be respectful, but at the same time, to hold on my own. She is also extremely hard working, irons all her costumes and is always doing one thing or the other such as dusting, cleaning or doing up the garden.
What touches me most is that though she gave up her career in films, she never said that she sacrificed her career for me. She has been a friend and strangely, we don’t like talking too much.