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Celebrating womanhood

WHEN AUTHOR AMISH wrote about how he and his sister had to eat bitter gourd sabji for a week, I cracked up. All for refusing to eat the sabji once and pushing the plate away! Mothers of that generation were all about tough love. I feel my mother communicated with food, and through food, with the eater. She infused the humblest of dishes with emotions.


My father wrote in his biography of her that as she grew older, she would get touchy when anyone criticised her cooking. “If any of her grandchildren innocently remarked that a curry was insipid, she would snap: ‘No food for you today. Go eat elsewhere.’ So they learned to chorus, even before tasting, that the food was delicious.” So, Amish and my children, nephews and nieces can compare notes if they ever meet, see.


This issue of your favourite newsweekly is a Women’s Day Special, and the cover has two parts to it—the one on mothers of celebs, and the second half on trailblazers. The first half was put together by Special Correspondent Anjuly Mathai and Deputy Chief of Bureau Namrata Biji Ahuja, while the second half was a joint effort by Senior Special Correspondents Sanjib Kr Baruah, Nachiket Kelkar and Lakshmi Subramanian, Principal Correspondent Pooja Biraia Jaiswal and Correspondent Nirmal Jovial.


But the real exclusive in the package is President Droupadi Murmu’s article on what it feels to be the woman in a Sukhoi fighter and to be the one signing the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam that guarantees 33 per cent reservation for women in all legislative bodies. I place on record my sincere thanks to President Murmu for her continued generosity, as she had written to THE WEEK’s readers in last year’s yoga special, too.


This issue celebrates women’s power in different ways, I feel. For example, Nachiket’s article on the changing entertainment media scene in India is pegged on the Reliance-Disney India venture. And, Nita Ambani is the one who will be heading this $8.5 billion behemoth. Columnist Shobhaa De has chosen producer-director-screenwriter Kiran Rao as the subject this time. Women’s power again, see.


Perhaps, the non-woman story that stands out is the gritty saga of Amir Hussain Lone who lost both his hands at the age of eight and then went on to captain Jammu and Kashmir’s para-cricket team. Senior Special Correspondent Tariq Bhat writes about the boy to whom Sachin Tendulkar sent his bat as a token of appreciation.


In the @leisure section, Senior Subeditor Karthik Ravindranath writes about Nina Metayer, the first woman to be designated as the world’s best confectioner by the International Union of Bakers and Confectioners—in 92 years.


The review of Nikhil Alva’s book, If I Have To Be A Soldier, by Senior Special Correspondent K. Sunil Thomas reminds me of the strong women in Alva’s life—his mother, former minister and governor Margaret Alva; and his paternal grandmother Violet Alva, the first woman to chair the Rajya Sabha, as its second deputy chairperson.


But let me not forget Suparna Sharma’s article on To Kill a Tiger, a film about a father-daughter duo’s fight for justice after the child was gang-raped. I am writing this against the backdrop of the rape of a foreign tourist in Jharkhand.


While celebrating some women, let us not forget the pain we cause to women in general in our society. Indeed, as President Murmu said, “A nation goes only as far as its women go.”