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Total Impressions : 12058539

Saturday's Child (By Rediff columnist Varsha Bhosle on her mother, singing legend Asha Bhosle)

filthy-rich upstarts of the Indian film industry leave them yards behind in the rat-race. Predictably, the female singer was consigned to the bottom rung of their esteem. Depending upon the sensibilities of the person, and regardless of actualities, she was labelled bai-ji, gaayika, gaanewali, kothewali, devdasi, etc. The list is quite endless; I had to learn to cope with it. 

The earliest memory I have of my mother, Mrs Asha Bhosle, is a fleeting montage of doorbells rung very late in the night, a sobbing woman hugging me back to sleep, the strains of strange, repetitive singing emanating from behind a closed door... I bang on the door wanting to go in, but am roughly pulled away by a man when the music threatens to cease. Later, I learned that that was a routine day in the life of my father: guarding Aai against all impediment which may have prevented her from singing for their supper. I have erased my father from my memory, and with him, some of my own childhood: a defence mechanism, people call it. From the sordid tales I hear from our old cook, I must have desperately needed to do it. Suffice to say that it is the stuff which has fed scriptwriters and novelists from time immemorial, of indignities heaped upon submissive womanhood. 

Aai came into her own quite suddenly. One day it struck her that her third and advanced state of pregnancy may not be able to sustain the daily dose of bashing that was her lot. The next day, she left behind every single paisa she had earned, her bungalow, her car, even her clothes, and sought refuge with Mai Mangeshkar, the grand old materfamilias. (It's a sore point in my life that she found the courage to do so only when my younger brother Anand was to be born). Of course, there were instant theories in the in .....

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