'I admire how my mother lives life to the fullest': Nidhi Razdan

On Women's Day, the former NDTV anchor on her relationship with her mother

61-Nidhi-Razdan-with-mother-Sarla Nidhi Razdan with mother Sarla

My mother is my best friend. I can talk to her about anything. She is the kind of person who is always full of life. She likes to always look at the bright side of things. While growing up, she was a little strict, but not as strict as my father. But as you get older, you develop a nice relationship with your mother. It is in the smallest things that I admire her. Like how she is in her 70s now, and yet she insists on wearing red lipstick. She has a large group of friends with whom she goes on walks every day. So she is very outgoing and positive in that sense.

She grew up in Kashmir in the 1950s. And she got married to my father when she was still in college. They lived in the same neighbourhood, so, as they say, it was a love marriage in the 1960s. She was basically a homemaker, although she did help my father with his work at some point. She has written a book on Kashmiri cooking, published by Roli, which was reprinted a couple of years ago. So that was her project. She was really proud of it, and I think it meant a lot to her. She is an excellent cook. Comfort food for me is a Kashmiri rogan josh. I still sit with her and eat. Unfortunately, I did not inherit her cooking skills. I don’t know how to cook and am an embarrassment to her.

I am really glad that she was there for us at home while growing up, because it made all the difference, even though she was very overprotective. She would accompany me to the school bus stop every day, even when I was in class 10. I would complain and ask her why she was doing it. On the first day of college, she wanted to drop me off in the car. I insisted on taking the DTC bus, and she came to the bus stop to see me off. I was mortified. We have had hundreds of fights when I was a teenager, on things like how long my skirt should be. But we always made up.

When you are a child, your parents are strict and overprotective. But when you become an adult, they tend to become your friends. That’s the case with my mother. We are friends more than mother and daughter. I tell her everything. We live 10 minutes away and we talk every day, sometimes twice a day. I cannot imagine not being able to talk to my parents. But the roles have reversed. Now I am taking care of them.

She has always been proud of me, when I won awards in college, and even when I left NDTV. Not just when I joined it, because she was proud that I took a stand, and that I stuck to my principles. She expresses that through a warm hug and a big kiss. She tells me how proud I make her all the time, and it means the world to me.

Of course, my brother is her favourite, and that has been my long-standing complaint. On a serious note, I think all mothers have a soft corner for their sons. Even if my brother does not speak to her every day, when he comes her face just lights up in a different way. I am more my father’s daughter.

The most important thing I have learned from her is her strength and positivity. Even if I am sitting at home, she’ll ask me why I am in my night suit. You should dress up, she will tell me. She is a cancer patient, and seeing how she has handled herself through that made me really proud of her. And she taught me how one can be graceful, dignified and live life to the fullest.

―As told to Anjuly Mathai at the 17th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival