Dear Shabana, thank you for being my feminist teacherLast updated on Sep 18, 2018, 04:59 pm
As you turn 68 today, I can mention 68 (or even more) reasons why I love you. But these reasons are not because you're a star.
These reasons come from binge-watching your movies like 'Fire', 'Mandi', 'Arth', 'Sonata' and 'Neerja'. My love for you comes from watching you on screen and knowing how I want to be.
It comes from learning from you how to say no. But Shabana, you also taught me the power of saying yes. Yes to myself. Yes to accepting who I am.
And for that, my power lady, I'll always remain thankful to you.
And I owe you that!
You taught me to explore my sexuality
I still remember I was a kid when 'Fire' was released. As a little girl, I was curious when my mom and her friends watched it behind closed doors.
And, at 18, when I watched it, I was REPELLED by it. I was repelled because I was scared. Why scared? Because I felt what Sita felt for Radha. From the symbolic names to their feelings, everything made perfect sense to me.
Years later, when I met Zoya, I figured how Radha would have felt. From the identity crisis to being repelled by your own sexuality is no kid's play, but I came through it because you had already led me to my first encounter with myself.
Thank you Shabana for giving me Radha.
The power of both
You taught me to say both, yes and no
When Arth's Pooja said NO to her husband's extramarital affair and walked out of an infidel relationship to build a life of her own, the little girl in me learned the power of NO.
I learned that if, in life, I'm ever being ill treated, I'll have the guts to say NO rather than settling for something less.
But you also taught me how to say YES.
I spoke up for the first time. Yes, I hated engineering and loved writing. Yes, I was confused about my sexuality. Yes, I've had a girlfriend. Yes, I had doubts about my religion. Yes, I'm mentally ill. Yes, I've bipolar disorder. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for this courage, Shabana.
Yes, you did
You taught me to value my Ma
Dear Shabana, you were Neerja's mom. But somewhere deep down, you were my mother too. I still remember how worried she would be when I would go back to hostel or when I was covering the campus fiasco in Delhi or whenever I would go outstation for stories.
Then I watched 'Neerja' and Rama's worries, love, concern told me everything Ma couldn't. I cried in the theater and vowed never to be irritated by her concerns.
And this Shabana is something, I'll never thank you for. Because honestly, no thank you will be enough for this.
Women for Women
You taught me the real definition of feminism
You've time and again proved the real meaning of feminism. You've taught me that as a woman, I should be there for other women.
Remember Rama's last words to Neerja: "Humare mein bhaiyo ko veer bolte hain. Veer ko behenein rakhi bandhti hain taaki wo unki raksha karein. Beheno se to koi nahi kehta raksha karne ko. Maine use kabhi nahi bataya, pata nahi kaha se usne sabke liye jeena seekh liya."
For a mother to say this at her daughter's funeral, it needs bone-cracking courage and through this, you taught me that I can be invincibly strong even during the most difficult times.
I am ME!
You led me to my identity sans any relationship
We live in a society where women still are someone's wife or daughter or sister. But you? Nah! You thought differently.
You, being the daughter of renowned Indian poet, Kaifi Azmi and veteran stage actress Shaukat Azmi, never allowed it to overshadow your personality. Even after marrying the renowned poet & lyricist Javed Akhtar, you maintained your individuality.
And this taught me that I am my father's daughter and brother's sister but I am Me.
So on this note, wishing you a wonderful 68th birthday, ma'am.
Keep inspiring girls like me. You might not be aware but you have been changing lives.