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Shalini Bharadwaj: The Birth of Me

It does not seem so long ago. Sitting pretty in my garden surrounded by dahlias and pansies, I could hardly breathe. The pain was excruciating and every time I breathed I could feel something wrong. Mummy arrives; she is suffering from a spur in her foot and has to be taken to the doctor.

Gladly I sit in the car, with her staring at my face and asking me what the problem was. I replied that I have become accident prone; slipped off the stairs again and my prolonged sprain in the foot since last two years is in a crepe bandage again. She, as usual, mumbled to me asking to be extra efficient in the house – trying always to be perfect for the caring husband and kids. I was looking out the window…at the farmhouses with nameplates; wondering what all must go on behind the walls of those houses.


My mother decides to shift in. She has been feeling low and lonely at her house and my sons are only too happy, as is husband. I see no reason to worry and relent to it.

She stays for three months in the guest room on the ground floor and I keep my mouth buried in the pillow on the first floor; where my broken rib got no time to heal and my shoulders and back got hurt with the curtain rods. Also, I accidentally take Zolfresh instead of pain meds; am rushed to the hospital… all are relieved as the stomach is pumped and I am scolded for not reading medicine labels properly.

Mom shifts out. And we are all relieved.

Then one evening, she calls me over for tea. I reach to find her sitting with a paper and pen on the table. Her doctor had warned her about my falls – and other tell-tale signs of domestic violence. And that was why she came to live with me. I am stumped. She asks me to write down everything. I shudder. I have two sons – the older one is four-and-a-half and the younger one is one-and-a-half. Let’s wait and watch – we both decide.

It is Rakshabandhan. I have to go to Mamma’s house. The children have gone to play at their grandparents. I go to a parlour and come back to an empty house. No one. No children. No mobiles. No cars. No cameras. No maids. No documents. No jewellery. And no husband. I walk five kilometres. To my mother’s house. We call the cops, go to the station to see my husband trying to file a complaint to implicate me instead. And separate me from the kids. He is all ready to disappear.

My blood boils and I refuse to settle. Ten days in court – I get my kids. No alimony as the amount of taxes I filed was higher. There was no house as there were benami transactions. There was no maintenance allowed to me as he was also previously married and had three kids from that marriage. There also was no income. But I did not fail to notice the Versace shoes and Mont Blanc belt that he wore to court.

My struggle to stand

The first thing I did was sold my solitaires that were in my ears and on my fingers – the only thing I was left with. I started living in a rented accommodation and bought an i10 – these were the places Numaa’ish Collection was born. I started trading in Pakistani suits, fabrics etc online. My first ever exhibition was hosted by a school friend. I met more and more people and links were formed – mostly word of mouth. Word got around of my wares and slowly my fabrics went on to become outfits that were wanted by people. I spread my wings to cover major cities – national and international. Delhi, Chandigarh, Chennai, Mumbai, Dubai, Bahrain, Indonesia and Australia – Numaa’ish Collection was going places. Exhibitions took over and I was busy. The growing clientele led to purchasers in Mumbai and then one day I saw Nita Ambani and Rani Poddar wearing Numaa’ish, My kids were, are and will be my pillars of strength. They never questioned me. They never troubled me.

My older son’s studies had to be taken care of – we decided on a hostel – and happily so. I never wanted to break a family, so I let the boys go to their paternal house. My younger son is shared by both of us.

My Fourth Baby

Since my older son was in hostel there, Dehradun became my second home. I was doing a lot of to and fro and one day while eating at the corner restaurant, I ended up giving out some suggestions for food. These were communicated by the chef to the owner, who promptly came out to meet me. Lo and behold, the owner asked me to pitch in – as a partner – I was stunned and looked towards the skies with gratitude.

Work started soon thereafter. I polished my training in cooking – trained under a renowned chef and voila, I am a partner at Food Junction (! My recipes, my masalas, my experience of cooking as a housewife for 12 years (which was daily for 20 people) – all came in handy.

I juggle between my clientele for outfits – now only customisations and my Restaurant and most importantly my kids. My older son says he is proud of me and my younger son loves it when he sees my pictures in newspapers or magazines.

Life is what we make of it. Situations will hit you all the time – in the face – and we have to face them. While we cannot control situations, we can definitely choose how we face them.

I am a firm believer in Karma. I have lived my life both as a princess and as a pauper. I know that my Karma will affect my children – whatever I do I know will affect them.

So my life’s motto is to not harm anyone – Karma takes care. Always.

As for me, it is always onward and upward.

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