I have admired her body of work since quite sometime. No, she is not an actress you swoon over- not even when she was 18. Rather, she is one of those. The ones who move the world forward, even when it doesn’t want to. This is her letter to her own 18 year old self published in today’s newspaper.
You are already wise — you are miserable at 18; you don’t buy any of that sweet 16 stuff can you? And rightly so. Things are hard, but you don’t have to be miserable; though I have to say that being miserable is good fun! I don’t want to warn you about the pitfalls ahead; don’t want to ruin the discoveries you will make. I don’t want to advise you — you won’t listen anyway. But I’d like to say that fear is a waste of time. And one can take forever to overcome various fears, so hurry up if possible.
You’re in for the long haul, you realise that, don’t you? You are going to be an actress forever. So get used to it and start learning ASAP. Nothing will be easy but it will be absorbing, so don’t belittle the art and craft of acting, as you are wont to at the moment. Develop respect for the art of creating, not just the creative product.
Travel — without being led, if possible. If you don’t look for safety and familiarity you may find unexpected delights.
A little secret — you can get more or less everything you ask for, so be careful what you want. Also you will get what you want but it won’t be in the way you want it; surprises are inevitable.
Bad news — you are a procrastinator by temperament — the fight will be endless and tiresome but totally worth it, so fight with all your might against it. You are also deeply lazy to make matters worse but you will surmount this, if goaded; allow yourself to be goaded.
Worse news — you will be astounded by how much of the gender nonsense you have internalised. And how much you will need to battle with yourself to overcome this early indoctrination. Get to work now.
Order and chaos are not necessarily independent of each other — don’t be anal about order; it’ll get in the way.
You’re wondering how one can work without being attached to the fruits of one’s labour. This is not the contradiction it appears to be now. It’s the only way to work constantly and remain sane.
Keep training your body and voice. An actor’s body has to be expressive in many ways and beauty is not the only aim.
Learn how to swim now. Please.
They say youth is wasted on the young but remember one can stay young-minded for as long as one wants.
So, I’m afraid I ended up with prophecy and advice after all! Sorry. Hindsight is always 20/20, but a hint — the ride is going to be fun.
I have a picture of you as you are now — those tweezed eyebrows and the almost painful look of anticipation and trepidation and I feel a great tenderness towards you. I’m deeply gratified to know that you will end up wiser than you are today.
PS: That good-looking guy on the bicycle is interested in you. Flirt confidently — your mom is not right about everything, you know. Live dangerously, once in a while at least!
If only the women of today’s India were more like her 🤔 They should realise- internalise if not realise, you are what you do and not what you think. In the end, accomplishments attached to your name are what define you, and not how you looked some day ,or how progressive you are in your thoughts. Everyone has thoughts, and ideas, till they are put to test.
Note :- This is a tribute to my mother who bagged Sahitya Akademi award at 56, dwarfing all my accomplishments put together.