Nandita Das

The Excitement of Responsibility

  • July 1, 2010

This is going to be my last piece for a while. And once I share the reason, you would agree that I absolutely must take this break. Now the baby bump is big enough for me to think of little else than all the excitement and anxiety that is in store for me in the month of August. For someone who is as independent and as nomadic as me, this experience is already overwhelming. I will not subject you to any mushy outpour of my hormonal or emotional changes, but what I want to share is the enormous weight of responsibility that I am feeling. I am sure it will resonate more with those of you who have had the experience of parenting or are planning to be. The responsibility of bringing in a being into this complex world with all its good and bad, its do’s and don’ts and its rights and wrongs. 

I have often succumbed to the temptation of giving unsolicited advice to friends as they struggled in these aspects while raising their child. Most shared their dilemma and heard my pearls of wisdom with interest, but some told me off by saying, “it’s easier said than done and you will know only when you become a mother”. Relying on my experiences of working with children, fairly extensively in my early days of social work, I thought I knew enough to share my inferences. And after all one doesn’t have to go through all the experiences in life to come to certain conclusions. In fact most things are a combination of common sense and empathy. But now as I embark on the journey of being a mother, I realize that those who told me off probably were right. 

I am daunted by the fact that the child will have hundreds of other influences and there is very little I will be able to do to control them. But I am even more uncomfortable with my desire to want to control those influences, many of which I know I will have problems with. My nightmares are of those influences that will make him want junk food, the gadgets that he/she will want to possess, the extravagant birthday parties that he/she might be exposed to and the competition that the world will impose on the child. My nightmare continues as visions of me being this monster mother who says “no” to everything. My broad principle of believing ‘that freedom of choice is important and with the right guidance, will make an individual discerning’ will surely be tested many times over.

It sure will be challenging to make the little one sensitive to its surroundings. Today the world is full of contradictions that seem to co-exist peacefully. We have all gotten used to people sleeping on pavements under a skyscraper or reading about women reaching the moon right next to a story of female foeticide. Such paradoxes have become a way of life. Some of us adults struggle with them but we too have learnt to either ignore or find a way around them. But the innocence of the child, is going to question these paradoxes and will compel us to give credible answers. I have to say, while this is going to be testing times, I am also delighted by the fact that my husband and I will be forced to be better human beings. We will have to be more honest and have greater clarity in our explanations than we have ever had. The child is going to observe our actions and responses to his/her questions and not just listen to what we have to say. So our thought action gap cannot be too wide, or else the child may fall into it! 

In absolute wonderment the child will absorb all that is around him/her and the responsibility to provide an environment that makes the child holistic and sensitive lies with us. That sounds like a lot of work, but in real terms for me it simply means sticking to one’s principles – keeping life simple, honest and minimalistic. It also means inculcating respect and love for all beings. We all know that the emotional intelligence of a person is formed in his/her formative years. As I write this I realize that this experience is going to push my boundaries beyond what I can imagine. Life is giving me an opportunity to reinvent myself, to reboot my wiring and put all that I have known to be good, into action. And this is one responsibility that I am really excited about.

Virata Parvam


Director: Udugula Venu

Language: Telugu

Character Name: Shakuntala

Key Cast: Kundan Alexzed, Chakrapani Ananda, Banerjee

Feastivals and Awards: NA

Film Stills: 9

BTS: 11