A Mum & Daughter Working Together As Equals! How Does it Work?
A mother daughter is a tenuous relationship as it is, but when they work together it can be a tight rope walk I’m guessing. And so when I walked the ramp for Neeta Lulla’s Marriot show I was pleasantly surprised to see Nishika and Neeta Lulla’s bon-homos, back slapping rapport with each other, so seamless and happy- it was a delight to my surprised eyes.
Neeta never saw Nishika as an extension of herself, but as an independent identity right from the beginning. She gave her respect and never reprimanded her infront of her peers, a big mistake that some parents make, unmindful of the acute sensitivity of a child infront of her peers-
“I have never imposed my ideas on Nishika. I feel a relationship gets strenuous when you are too forceful about your own ideas. I cannot live my ambitions and dreams through a child. It strains the relationship. Nor did I force her into design. Quite the contrary. She was most mindful about co-ordinating her own clothes, so much so that hers first word was not ‘mama’ or ‘papa’ as she was growing up, it was ‘match’. She matched her hair clips with her shoes.”
Back in the early eighties Neeta used to style film stars for magazine covers and take Nishika along. Neeta became quite sure her daughter would don the cape of a fashion designer when she saw that her little five year old tot, who had then accompanied her on the shoot, was busily adjusting the South Indian stars sari while Neeta had stepped out for a coffee.
When Nishika grew up she knew she would be a designer and join her mother’s firm. She joint SNDT only to realize that her mother was her professor which could have been awkward. “I always addressed my mother as ma’am’ interjects Nishika. “I became her student and later an intern where I worked for my mother at which point I met her twenty-four-seven. I learnt to be on my own while being with her, because she treated me same as her other interns. So the interesting thing was that I saw her giving me space and we kept a professional distance.
What is special in my memory is that even when I was very young and I was growing up, I found she was nurturing me, but allowed me to do what I wished. There was no pressure upon me to study or perform. So somewhere I became aware of the fact that I wanted to do fashion.
The way we function is very different, and yes we do have spats, but they are short lived and neither of us has an ego. We’re more like friends, I’ve never had to try and she’s never said anything offensive to me to get me to do what she wants. It’s a friendly relationship mostly.”
Neeta’s success with her daughter stems from giving and receiving respect and never crossing the line with tantrums and bad temper. The secret she says is to always behave with decorum because children grow up and remember and resent. “I’ve seen that a relationship grows when you don't put too much effort in mending a child’s way. You cannot make a child do what they don't want to do. So reason and conversations are the best way to get a child to understand, not loud voices and anger. Resultantly she has always known her priorities and protocol. I don't cross the line so she never does either.”
It’s not all smooth however. They don't see eye to eye on a lot of design decisions, for instance the color pink. Neeta does bridal and contemporary Indian, Nishika is mostly contemporary. “I let her do her own thing. Whether she does well whether she ruins it is her own fate, her own responsibility. I cannot push her at all. Children get too dependent and then cannot face situations when there is too dominant a figure directing them, and I think it is harmful for a child. Even when she was at school I didn’t push her to study, I gave her the option and placed the situation infront of her. If she didn’t want a good future and good work options that was her choice.”
“When she needs guidance she comes to me, I give her technical advice. Even she is my best critic and I am able to take it on the chin without being over-sensitive I am able to take feedback. It is a give and take friendly relationship where we balance each other and manage to bring out the best.”
Misunderstandings are a way of life, how do they make it up to each other.
“We give each other a hug, none of us bears grudges or sulk long term. The magic of our relationship is neither of us sits on a high horse, we admit when we’ve gone wrong. We value our relationship too much” shares Neeta.
My advice to all mothers is that either a child has it in her to achieve or some just don't. Let a child make the minor mistakes and learn. You have to accept their shortcomings and build on their dreams. You cannot live your life through your spouse or your child and you have to allow everyone around you to live and let live. It is something I believe very strongly in. “
A tiny word to all parents out there from me, please take a cue and be polite and kind to your kids. It is unfair to take them for granted and ride rough-shod on them.
A tiny word of love to all the kids and teens out there, be nice to your parents, they are not going to be there around you forever- love them while you can enjoy them!
With Love Nisha JamVwal
Nisha JamVwal's column for Deccan Chronicle & Asian Age, blogged here courtesy Deccan Chronicle Group
Tweet Nisha @nishjamvwal