Spending time with my daughter Palak – My daughter, Palak is very tomboyish and when I return home after the shoot she is in dirty hair and dirty clothes with a simple rubber band to tie her hair. At times, I get irritated that she doesn't maintain herself but then I don't go after her since I am not at home all day and I get only 2-3 ours with her and if I trouble her then she will run away from me so even as I am talking to her I get her to wear good, fresh clothes, apply cream, comb her hair. I think it is very important for mothers to stay at home with kids especially daughters because they don't know how to take care of themselves otherwise. I think I am a very careless mom because I shoot for almost 16 hours a day and reach home at odd times. If it is a regular 9 am to 10 pm shift I reach home by 10 pm and she sleeps by 10:30 – 11 pm and if I reach late at 2-3 am she has already slept but then I wake up with her early morning to get her ready for school since that is the only time I get to meet her.
Even though I am out of the house, I track her every move – Palak is in school from 7 am to 5 pm after which she plays for 2 hours in the society, has dinner and sleeps so she doesn't go anywhere else alone. And when she goes to her friend's apartment even within the society she needs to call me and tell me she has reached there or else I get scared. Whenever she gets into a lift, she has strict instructions to call and tell me and then when she comes out she has to call me again or else I feel what if she gets into the lift and then disappears mid-way then, how do I find out where she is in amongst all those apartments if she goes missing? She calls me when she reaches office and if I don't get a call from home then I call from my side and I also have the school bus attendant Surekha's number with whom I am in touch with continuously to know whether she sat in the bus and got off from the bus so I know constantly what is happening to my daughter.
I feel guilty for not being there for her – I have lots of guilt feelings especially when she gets hurt or wants me, needs me to be with her and I cannot reach there at that time. I cannot go to her school when they call me because I am a single parent and working too, so I tell my mom or brother to go, However, Palak doesn't crib much but I know somewhere that she wants me to be there for her. When there is Open house, PTA meetings at her school I feel terrible at those times thinking why am I working, why am I doing this? But then since you are so busy in work that you cannot do anything about it. I don't miss Palak on the sets while shooting but I feel that when she is free she should come and visit the sets because she enjoys being with the kids on the sets. So when I'm shooting she sometimes visits me on the sets and she gets along very well with my on-screen daughter Aashika Bhatia (Ginnie in Parvarish Kuchh Khattee Kuchh Meethi) and they all play together.
I am strict and punish her too – Palak had a mobile but it has been banned because she was chatting too much on the BBM and ignoring her homework in the process. I caught her once when she told me that she had stomachache but sent her friend a message saying that she is not coming to school as she had not done her homework. When I saw that message I punished her for lying to me and banned her mobile. Now she keeps on asking me when about getting the mobile back and I have told her that she will get it only when she turns 18 and stops lying.
On pressurizing Palak – I believe that she should do what she likes to do otherwise she will not be able to do it at all. It is no use forcing kids into doing anything. My mom never forced me and so I too will not force my daughter. At present, every morning she gets up and wants to be something different everyday – someday she wants to be a pilot, dancer, teacher, swimmer, etc. So till now she is not able to decide what she wants to be!
Every minute, everything about my daughter is very special to me – In fact, whenever there is a special day whether it is Mother's day or my birthday she writes a long two page letter to me and I wait for that letter where she says a lot about herself which she normally doesn't tell me.
Seema Khot Mattoo