Kiran Segal on why Zohra Segal's biography took six years

Abhi Na Jana Chhod Kar…

Ki Cake Abhi Kata Nahin…

Ki Pet Abhi Bhara Nahin…

(Don't leave the party, the cake hasn't been cut yet, tummy isn't filled yet)

The lines coming from a lady who added 100 magical years to her life are both witty and welcoming, just like her. Zohra Segal, the doyenne of Indian theatre, celebrated her 100th birthday recently with the release of her official biography, “Zohra Segal-Fatty”, written by her daughter Kiran Segal.

Women Press Corps hosted a book discussion session in the Capital with Ira Pande, author and editor, Roli Books, and Kiran Segal on the latter's newly released book. Dressed in a flowing red skirt and black tee, Kiran looked excited and nervous at the same time. Ira Pande, who has also written a memoir on her mother titled “Diddi”, joined her as the special guest for the evening. The event started with the screening of a documentary made by noted stage personalities M.K. Raina and Anant Raina, Zohra Segal: An Interview 2012.

Kiran Segal, noted Odissi dancer, said, “The book is a simple narration of my mother's journey through the various ups and downs of her life. It took me six years to complete writing as Ammi was always on the move.” She added smilingly, “The book is titled ‘fatty' because she has been very conscious about her weight. My daughters and I call her fatty to tease her.”

Having penned down the memories of their mothers, the common thread shared by both Ira and Kiran came through the entire conversation. They remarked that the most difficult chapter to write is about one's parents. As a child one doesn't understand many things, but as one grows up things start falling in place and we connect better with our parents. Talking about the uncomfortable moments of life, Ira Pande said, “A work should not be just a piece of flattery. As they say, to err is human; committing mistakes and learning from them is an integral part of life. Kiran and I have talked about our parents' fights and other unpleasant memories in our books. No matter how divine they are to us, we are not portraying our mother as someone who is devoid of any flaw.”

On a lighter note, Kiran added, “Ammi always wants to be the centre of attraction like a small kid. My younger daughter, Sujata, and Ammi are like buddies. They fight and fume at each other and the next moment they are seen hugging and giggling.”

The book talks about Zohra's childhood, career, marriage, children and various other interesting facets of her life. Her lust for life that made her live 75 years of active life is a feat that few can match. Her daughter and author of the book credits her mother's discipline and will-power as the driving force of her life.

As a person who has seen her mother's eccentricities all her life, Kiran has made a successful effort to bring about the beautiful relationship shared by a mother and daughter through her book. She stated, “Everyone views a mother differently. I do fear the day when I will no longer have her physical presence. I know that is bound to happen and I think of it everyday. As these realisations hit my mind, my mother looks at my moist eyes and cracks a joke, making me smile.” As the grand old lady of theatre often remarks with her witty smile, “I want to be a blonde with blue eyes,” humming her favourite sonnet “Abhi to Main Jawaan Hoon” by poet Hafez Jullundari, her admirers wish and pray to see more of her in the coming years.

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