Mrs Vinod Dikshit
When Delhi?s present Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said ?I do? to college mate Vinod, she did not know that marriage would mean going around a banyan tree, eating flour balls for food, hiding her face in a ghunghat, wearing her bridal attire on every festival throughout the first year, till it was put away bundled as a pillow.india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 02:54 IST
When Delhi’s present Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said “I do” to college mate Vinod, she did not know that marriage would mean going around a banyan tree, eating flour balls for food, hiding her face in a ghunghat, wearing her bridal attire on every festival throughout the first year, till it was put away bundled as a pillow.
She was blissfully unaware that her modernity would be viewed with suspicion and she would have to spend her life performing rituals and listening to a minimum of seven stories a day: “On every festival we had to go through the drill of mythological stories being mumbled”, Dikshit recalls. Unable to handle the nitty-gritty of conservatism, Dikshit finally wrote to her father: “Rewind… we have gone back to the 4th century.”
Even though hers was a love marriage to Vinod, it was far from the proverbial love at first sight. This, despite the fact that he was exceptionally ‘good looking and tall’. “He was arrogant and supercilious so it was really hate at first sight….”
However, the daily bus ride on DTC’s Route No. 410 changed it all. When he finally popped the question, Sheila nearly fell off her seat. It was difficult to imagine that the man who never had money to buy his own bus ticket had marriage on his mind: courtship meant taking route number 410 to and fro and seeing Sheila back home safely even if it meant her paying for Vinod’s ticket: “He was forever broke. I always had to pay for his bus ticket and continued doing so even after he proposed to me.” Her parents were, understandably, concerned. When they asked her about Vinod’s career prospects, Sheila shrugged: “Don’t know… may be he will get a peon’s job somewhere…” That he got through the civil service is another matter.
The hate emotion reigned supreme in Sheila’s life when it came to Maths and Hindi, the latter posing a kind of challenge even today: “I still have difficulty reading Hindi. It would take me an hour to read what I can in 15 minutes in English” she confesses.
Like any good convent-educated girl, Sheila is very ‘propah’ about the English language. Consequently, even when it comes to games like pitthu, she refers to it as ‘seven tiles’. Look lost and she quizzes: “Never played it, putting one tile over another and hitting it with the ball?”
Post-childhood, it was college ragging which left her with locks of her knee length hair chopped off: “I came home and cried…” Crying was never a problem: it happened on watching movies, being chided and sometimes even to score a point.
Now the tears have stopped. Perhaps forever. In 1987, when her husband’s body was found in a railway compartment, time stood still: “That day I lost everything… the tears dried up… Now there is no fear and nothing more to lose,” says Dikshit, her rather attractive face deadpan.
First Published: Feb 25, 2006 02:54 IST