News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

This article was first published 8 years ago  » Getahead » 'She is my teacher, counsellor and best friend'

'She is my teacher, counsellor and best friend'

By Gitanjali Gurbaxani
Last updated on: May 05, 2016 11:50 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

A daughter's ode to her mother on Mother's Day. 


IMAGE: Gitanjali Gurbaxani and her mother. 

A mother is the closest person we have to God. Indian culture respects many deities and rivers, and Earth itself is called 'Ma'. She is our entire psyche.

The pivotal role of being a mother is still the divine mission assigned to women alone.

A woman's life undergoes a major change once her child is born. It is not as if a child teaches the mother anything consciously, nor does this mean that a mother observes her child and learns new tricks.

A mother gives love and care with no expectations. Keeping her children healthy and kicking has always been a challenge for mothers.

There was a time when plenty of mothers were stay-at-home moms, and yet the rules they set for their kids gave any strict headmistress a run for her 'discipline'.

There were time-tables to be followed, homework to be completed, worksheets to be filled, and a huge list of things to which they simply said a 'no' to.

Bet a lot of us can relate to these kinds of mommies who felt the need to be their best, and to bring out the best in their children.

In this case, being the best, could probably only be related to giving the best academically! 

During my childhood, I often remember my mom making differently flavoured and coloured eggs for me to eat that were made of milk, sugar and china grass. That's because I did go through a phase when I was allergic to many ingredients, including eggs.

The domestic cook was advised to gently crack the egg at its tip and pour its contents out into a bowl, carefully rinse the inside of the shell with liquid detergent thoroughly using a paint brush and then place it over a wooden skewer to dry.

After sometime, the china grass was made and poured into small bowls. Into these were added edible liquid red colour and rose essence, green colour and mint essence, yellow colour and pineapple essence, and it was stirred well. Using a thin funnel, it was quickly poured into the egg shells before the consistency thickened and were then left to set in the egg tray in the refrigerator.

The eggs would get cracked just as I entered my house. I looked forward to having these sweet, colourful eggs that was treat to the palate.

Mom was always there for us, taking care of us for as long as possible.


IMAGE: The doll cake on Gitanjali's birthday.

My older sister and I shared a common birthday party, as we were born in the same month.

Those were the days of home parties and home cooking, and mom would make fancy birthday cakes for us. One such was a doll cake.

She was always home to welcome us after a strenuous day at school and feed us nutritious, yummy food that was visually appealing.

At school, she made sure to come in during the short recess on days when our favourite snack was being sold in the canteen, so that my sister and I could eat beyond what our pocket money could buy us.

She did all of this despite being a busy doctor, and being attached to several hospitals in the city then.

Our school friends still recognise and greet her whenever they meet as she hasn't changed with time.

Our school teachers often came home for lunch on holidays to eat the vegetables that were grown in the small garden of our penthouse apartment in Colaba.

Within minutes of their plucking their choicest vegetables, they'd be served the same, cooked just the way they would have wished to eat it. This was all thanks to my mom.

She felt that nothing compared to growing fruits and vegetables in your terrace garden and giving guests the pleasure of plucking their own seedless papaya, small elaichi bananas, seedless watermelons, guavas, and chikoos, to eat off the tree.

My mom is a special woman, who is dedicated to anything she puts her mind to.

In 1983, she started the Lioness Club of Girgaum with a group of her friends and their friends, one where she is the Charter President.

During the October service week, medical camps would be held in our clinic in Colaba on Sundays, where a regular health check-up was done for free and vaccinations were given. 

Camps were also held for cancer and diabetes detection. With funding from well-wishers and the support of The Bombay Mother's and Children Welfare Society, a NGO that we support, she opened an 80-room Cancer Convalescent Home at Dr Mhaskar's Hospital in BDD Chawl, Lower Parel in October 1986.


IMAGE: Shashi Kapoor at the Cancer Convalescent Home with Dr Dolly Gurbaxani. 

She did this as she noticed many middle-class patients, who came from smaller cities for treatment to the Tata Memorial Hospital, had only the footpath to sleep on. Because no relative would welcome sick people and they couldn't afford to live in a hotel for such a long duration.

This cancer convalescent home is in proximity to the hospital, and was inaugurated by our family friend, the legendary cine star Shashi Kapoor.

Between then and now, many cancer patients have availed of these rooms as they are subsidised, where a friend or relative can live with the patient, and it also allows them to cook their own food in the common kitchen.

On April 26, 1992, along with a team of dedicated workers at The Bombay Mother's and Children Welfare Society, she opened the Ajit Shahani Diagnostic Centre at Dr Tilak Hospital in BDD Chawl, Lower Parel.

This place has state-of-the-art equipment and offers surgery (for many ailments) conducted by well-known, experienced doctors who volunteer to do it at a cost that even the labour class can avail of -- and in some cases for free to those who can't afford it.

It even has state-of-the-art equipment in the dental clinic, with a dentist who is good at doing the basic and cosmetic dentistry as well, at a nominal charge.


IMAGE: Dr Dolly Gurbaxani cuts her birthday cake. 

On Sunday October 19, 1997 along with the family of Maya Shahani of the SAGE Foundation, they opened the Lila Shahani Ophthalmic Ward at BDD Chawl that was inaugurated by Shashi Kapoor.

This was on mom's birthday and she wished to bring it in with the underprivileged to bring joy and happiness in their lives.

I baked a three-kg chocolate cake and took it along. She had wished to have a cake cutting ceremony in their midst, something many of them had not witnessed before.

Seeing the smile on their faces, when they were given a piece of the cake to eat, was priceless. She touched their lives with this small gesture.

Subsequently, they opened four creches for children in the suburbs of Mumbai.

A mother is the guiding star of a child. They, therefore, created an environment that's conducive here, so that the child's growth takes place in the right direction, while the parents are at work.


IMAGE: Dr Dolly Gurbaxani giving medicines to the underprivileged in Rajgurunagar, Pune. 

Over the years, under her guidance as the vice chairperson of The Bombay Mother's and Children Welfare Society, they have adopted 81 villages, in and around Rajgurunagar near Pune where they are educating the girl child and women. This is done with the help of corporate social responsibility of a couple of organisations.

They offer them e-education, courses in computer, stitching, machine embroidery and a lot more.

We encourage them to study so that they don't have problems arising of caste, class and gender differences later in life, when they get domesticated.

Mom has often spoken with the men folk on the importance of educating their daughters given that a considerable proportion of these men are acutely under-equipped to be eligible for skilled or semi-skilled jobs.

From time to time, she goes to meet and distributes them calcium and vitamin supplements. She also educates them on the importance of having it daily.

We grew up in a shelter of our mother's protection.

She often told us that the secret to happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.

What we are today is the fruition of her hard work and unconditional nurturing -- as mothers tend to alter their minds as per the needs of their children, and the responsibility increases as they grow up.

We should reflect on the importance of mothers in our lives.

To many, my mom Dr Dolly Gurbaxani is an icon. To others, she is an inspiration and a renaissance woman. To me, she is my teacher, my counsellor and above all, my best friend. I am fortunate to have her in my life.

Here's saluting the spirit of mothers by wishing her and all the other mothers a very Happy Mother's Day!

Gitanjali Gurbaxani is a well-known author and food consultant.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Gitanjali Gurbaxani