Celebrating moms

Devika Sakhadeo
Friday, 12 May 2017

Mere Paas Maa Hain: A mother’s day event that explores the invaluable contribution a mother has in her child’s life is being organised by author Sudha Menon today. Listen to inspiring talks by swimming champ Gauri Gadgil and her mom Sneha, and Priyanka Khandelwal of Abira Creations

A mother is more than a word, more than a relationship and more than a friendship. A mother is one with whom you have the most invaluable connection. The famous dialogue in the 1975 Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor-starrer Deewar which says, ‘Mere paas maa hain’ proves how precious moms are. Exploring this connection and this invaluable bond, Sudha Menon, author of Legacy, a bestselling book about letters by parents to their children and many other non-fiction books, will be hosting the annual mother’s day event called ‘Mere paas maa hain’. 

She will be in conversation with Gauri Gadgil, ace swimmer who has won several national and international medals and was also the central character of the Marathi film Yellow that won the National Film Award — Special Jury Award / Special Mention (Feature Film) and her mother Sneha Gadgil, who continued being the pillar of strength for her daughter born with Down syndrome. Menon will also be talking to  another inspiring woman — Priyanka Khandelwal of Abira Creations that helps empower women, particularly mothers. 

Prior to the event, we caught up with Sneha, who recollected the journey of her daughter. She said, “I still remember the day Gauri was born. I also remember the doctor giving me a list of precautions to be taken care of since we understood that she was born with Down syndrome. She had massages twice a day, had to be in the sun for some time, and had to have a non-spicy diet. But we just saw these things as precautions or our care and not some special arrangements. This is because I never saw her as a special child, I always saw her as my daughter and not as a daughter with Down syndrome. But I researched a lot, read a lot of literature about the syndrome to ensure that Gauri was provided with a comfortable and inclusive environment all the time.” 

Sneha further explained that she is more like a friend to her daughter. “I also have another daughter, who is younger to Gauri and we took a second chance at having another child because not just Gauri would have a sibling to connect with but she would also be a pillar of strength to our second daughter. We have been so proud of her and all that she has achieved in her life so far. She fulfilled our dream of getting her into the mainstream educational system during her 11th standard admission on the basis of her achievements such as her Olympic-level swimming performances, MS-CIT, and many other things. No mother can be more proud of her daughter,” she said.  

According to Priyanka, “A mother empowering a child is just not limited to one child, it empowers a whole new generation, motivates the family and also contributes towards fighting social stigmas.” She explained that Abira Creations, which consists of a fashion house and a training centre, works to build an ecosystem for women to set them on the path of learning and growth. After completion of their training programme which consists of life, leadership and skills training,  the women who are from marginalised backgrounds, are placed with various organisations or start their businesses. 

Narrating the story of a woman who benefited through Abira and has been an inspiration to many, Priyanka said, “One of our employees learnt computer skills and the internet. She herself has completed her education till the third or fourth grade but wanted her daughter to receive formal education. She learnt about the Right to Education Act (RTE) that allows children from marginalised backgrounds to obtain free education in schools till eighth standard or 14 years of age. She filled the online RTE form for her daughter, and her daughter got admission in a private school. However, the school refused admission. She came back to our centre, went online, got a printout of the list and went back to the school to secure her daughter’s admission.”

Sudha Menon will be exploring the impact a mother has on her child’s life and will unfold experiences of the trio of Gauri and Sneha Gadgil, and Priyanka Khandelwal. This event will be held on May 13, at Either Or, Sohrab Hall, from 5 pm onwards.


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