Namaste and Hello
Here I am today, talking to Pooja, nearly thirty years on from Indian Independence. She talks about her life, what she has done since and about her children. She talks about her life in India before and after Independence, about Dev, Amit and Sunil.
Me: Tell me something about yourself, Pooja.
Pooja: I grew up in a village with my sisters and brother and my friends. We had lots of fun times. I moved to Bombay after my marriage to Amar and well, my life took off from there.
Me: What do you remember the most about living in a village? Do you miss it?
Pooja: I feel free in the village. The simplicity is special to me. I remember the river dips we used to take and running in the fields. Ma used to tell me off so many times. She said, “You are not a boy, Pooja. Tomorrow, you will be married. Lot’s of girls your age are getting married.” (Pooja laughs)
I thought about her life after her marriage…it was better if I didn’t speak of it. But she surprised me.
Pooja: When I married Amar, I was young in mind – I didn’t know anything. He was very attentive in the first few months. He took me places, we went to high society parties and he loved me. I still wonder when and why all that changed.
Me: A lot has happened in the last few years, your life has changed dramatically.
Pooja: My children are my support and I love them so much. Without them I don’t where I would be or what I would do. I see Rakhi a lot in Amar.
Me: Tell me about Dev, Amit and Sunil. They were your childhood friends…?
Pooja: Sunil – he is still as pagal (crazy) as he was before he married. Even with children of his own now, he thinks he is twenty-four. (Pooja smiles). He hasn’t forgotten his love of Films and makes sure he goes to see a film at least four times a week. Neha scolds him so much for that!
Amit is like my brother. I do love him. He is very happy with his wife. I wasn’t sure at first, losing one’s first love…but now, he is in love once again. I see it in his eyes. He keeps in touch with his ‘Memsahib’ and has told me he will come to England to meet her one day. On his request I have visited his Memsahib and he was pleased to hear that she is very well but looking as old as he. She loved his gift of spices and herbs from him.
Me: And Dev?
Pooja is quiet now. She looks away and seems distant, like she is not in this room. Then, she turns back at me and smiles her radiant smile.
Pooja: Dev has grown as a man, a husband and a father. He has taken on responsibilities – a business man now. He owns two garages with Khan bhai and is always travelling to and from Simla. Payal is a sweet woman and I am glad she is Dev’s wife.
I sensed a melancholy feel from her last sentence. Was she feeling lonely? Did she miss Dev? I decided to change the subject.
Me: Tell me about the Quit India Movement. How do you feel about it? How has it changed your life?
Pooja: In some ways, it was good to have gained our Independence. But a lot of lives were lost. Killings, abductions, rapes, loot and arson…that’s what I see. Some people fared well but many didn’t. Partition was a major cause and even my own, suffered.
Me: It has been almost thirty years since India gained her partition. Your children have grown up…Why did you choose to move to England?
Pooja: Rakhi married and moved to America. She does a lot for charity but she is an author too. She has written many books. Kamla studied whilst in India and she wanted to further her career in England. She is a doctor now. She is married to a doctor and they live in Surrey. Veer is working in Europe. Poor boy, his wife died in a few years ago. I look after his son and daughter when he is away. They keep me occupied. And my sweet Radha, she is married too, but she prefers the simple life. She decided to be a housewife. She is a really good cook and people have praised her. They are urging her to open up a restuarant.
So you see, most of my family live in the UK. My children need me here.
Me: Do you miss India?
Pooja: I go back every year now. Since my children have all grown up and moved on, I am quite free. But I don’t go alone. Radha and Veer accompany me for a few weeks until they have to fly back and some years, Rakhi and Kamla come too. I stay on and look after my work there. I have Amit, Dev and Sunil to keep me company.
Me: Do you still take part in charity events? You helped a lot of the homeless and orphans back in India.
Pooja: Yes, charity work is dear to me. I try and help all I can and I raise awareness and monies to help the homeless and other people, who are in need.
Me: You have come a long way. Your career has taken off…
Pooja: I teach as a lecturer in universities and have spoken at conferences, about social awareness and living. I talk about charity work ofcourse but also on the economy and business. People are always interested on how I became a success. (Pooja laughs)
Me: But you are a success.
Pooja: Success is not what I do, it is my children.
Me: Thank you for talking to me, Pooja.
Here, I conclude me interview with Pooja. She is a changed lady but for the better with no regrets.