Sudha Bharadwaj is one of the five activists arrested by the Pune Police on August 28. She is a prominent lawyer, activists, and trade union, leader. Her daughter Maaysha Nehra wrote a heartfelt emotional letter about her mother and a followed arrest that created a nationwide stir.
It was 7 in the morning. Mamma woke me up. “they have come to search the house, get up.” What happened after that everyone knows. Everyone is writing about Mumma, I thought I should too (haha!).
There has always been some difference between my thinking and Mumma’s. My thinking perhaps doesn’t match hers and we might have argued about it as well. I always used to ask Mumma, “Mumma why do we lead a life like this? Why don’t we live well leading a normal life?” Mumma used to say, ‘Beta, I like staying among the poor and working with them. But when you grow up, you live as you want to.” Still, I used to feel bad. I used to say that you have given many years to everyone. Now take out some time for yourself and live comfortably. I was also unhappy that Mumma didn’t give me time. Most of her time used to be for people, not for me.
In my childhood, I used to live with a Chacha from the Union and his family. They had children, we used to live together. But when I used to remember Mumma, I would hold her sari and cry. I remember even today, I was ill, Chachi came to me and caressed my head. I had thought it would be Mumma. I suddenly blurted out ‘Maa’. Then when I opened my eyes I saw it was chichi. I spent less time with Mumma only in my childhood.
When I came into the 6th standard then I started staying properly with Mumma. Maybe that’s why we don’t understand each other so well even now. I have seen her working the whole day, without caring for herself, without eating, without sleeping, fighting for others, doing things for others. I feel bad when Mumma doesn’t take care of herself. When she used to have a case, then Mumma used to be quite worked up. I used to think that this is her profession. Why is she getting upset? She used to say ‘if we don’t think about this, who will?
I have heard on the news, someone was saying that such people claim they are working for Adivasis’ but they only put on a show. Their children go and study in the USA. Maybe they don’t know about me, that I have studied in a government school in a ‘Workers Basti’ in Hindi medium. And I always used to fight with Mumma that you yourself studied in English medium, and educated me in Hindi. It’s a different matter that I learnt to read and speak English on my own because I was interested in. When I came to the 12th standard I insisted on being enrolled in the English Medium course at the NIOS because I wanted to.
Mumma is being called a Naxalite. I don’t feel bad but I just feel people have gone mad and they have got into the habit of saying anything without even knowing the reality. I am not affected by what people say or what the police says because who can know my mother better than me?
If fighting for the rights of Adivasis, fighting for workers and peasants, fighting against repression and exploitation and giving up one’s whole life for them is being a Naxalite then I guess Naxalites are pretty good.
Let people say whatever, I am proud to be her daughter.
Mumma always used to tell me, ‘Beta I haven’t earned money, I have earned people’, and yes she is right. I can see that. I love you, Mom.