With my favourite festival just a few weeks away, I was delighted to receive this sweet image from a well wisher...
My thoughts went out to Vilasrao Deshmukh's family. He was a Daddy Cool in the most positive way... an extraordinary father who encouraged his three sons to follow their individual dreams. The ever-smiling Deshmukh will be missed by his many admirers... this has been a sad week.... Prabhuddo Dasgupta, photographer extraordinaire, passed away a couple of days ago, and Deshmukh, earlier today....
The old boy is something else… mind it! Let’s hand it to N.D.Tiwari.Not only was he in total denial during the prolonged period of a messy paternity suit filed by Rohit Shekhar, his biological son, but even today,after losing the case, Tiwariji remains unabashed and brazen as he declares boldly, “ I have full rights to live as I want.” For Shekhar and his mother, it has been an agonizing battle fighting for their own rights. Rights, that may now include another bitter war over N.D.Tiwari’s considerable property. Was that really what this was all about – property, money, assets? Perhaps.This ugly controversy could have been handled with more discretion and dignity, had Tiwari been more sensible. In the old days, men like him could walk away from their obligations and res- ponsibilities very easily. All they had to do after a one night stand was to callously abandon the woman.Powerful politicians could get away with this and more. But unfortunately for Tiwari, he hadn’t factored in a few key things when he bedded Rohit’s mother over 30 years ago and conveniently forgot all about it. God knows how many more Rohits and Rohinis Tiwari may have fathered! But here was one Angry Young Man, who was not prepared to let it go so easily. He went to court. And insisted on a DNA test. Thirty long years ago, such a test was not an option. How could Tiwari have anticipated such a twist in the tale? Obviously he hadn’t… and must have counted on immunity from any such investigation , if it ever arose.Who was Rohit Shekhar, anyway? A nobody. Who cared whether or not he was stuck with the tag of being born a ‘bastard’ ? Certainly not his father. But clearly Rohit was made of sterner stuff… as was his mother.
It takes real guts for a young man in our patriarchal, feudalistic society to take on a person who has far more clout and far more money. A man who obviously believed Rohit’s court case was nothing more than an annoying mosquito bite. Who cares about a son fighting for his mother’s honour?In a society where a woman like Rohit’s mother is invariably converted into the vamp of the piece for sleeping with a man not her husband, it is her moral character that is questioned. It is her child who has to bear the stigma of illegitimacy at every level. Tiwari must have counted on exactly that . It is to Rohit’s credit that he soldiered on. And it is to the courts’ credit that Tiwari was compelled to provide a blood sample that finally nailed him.
What happens next will be interesting to monitor. But if it does turn into a property issue, everything else be damned, well… Tiwari deserves it. And Rohit has certainly earned his inheritance after being deprived for three decades. If Tiwari does indeed have a change of heart and embraces the young man sincerely, apologises to his mother and unconditionally accepts both as family, it will make Tiwari a bigger person in the eyes of the public. But such a thing is unlikely to take place. Men like Tiwari have been getting away with sexually exploiting women and discarding them at will since time immemorial. Our mythology is replete with similar stories. India has typically condoned men like Tiwari and pinned the blame on women. What happens between consenting adults is indeed their business. But what happens to children of such liaisons is more worrying. Rohit Shekhar ( regardless of his motivations) may have done a huge favour to others in similar situations. The days of suffering in silence are over. Every child has the absolute right to fight for what is his or hers by law. Most illegitimate offspring of influential fathers don’t possess the required tools to fight for justice. Most abandoned women are too terrified of society’s backlash to take such a risky route. Some are killed before they can contemplate such a step. Others find their mouths sealed either with money or threats to physically harm them and their child. Rohit Shekhar could have been bumped off years ago. That he is still alive is a miracle. That he has won, is not just a personal triumph and vindication of honour, but a victory for thousands caught in similar traps. As for Tiwari…it’s too late for him to press the ‘Rewind’ button. And it’s no use keeping his finger on ‘Pause’. As for ‘Fast Forward’ – hell, if at 86, he’s still upto his old tricks, one can only hope for his sake he has discovered condoms.