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'I am happy for my father, but I am worried too'

January 28, 2009
She is quite open about her father. "My father was surprised. He was secretly very pleased. I think he didn't expect that one of us will become a writer. His children are always surprising him. He always encouraged us to do what we think is right. He likes it when we do things differently. I wanted my mother to read my novel as a reader."

Daman has an interesting facet to her life -- how being the prime minister's daughter changes one's life at the micro level. At every step of life things take a new turn.

She says when Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced her father's name as prime minister she could not believe it. "I didn't believe it. It seemed impossible to me. It took a long time for me to actually believe it. When the swearing-in took place then I believed it."

She is happy, but worried too.

"I am worried for him. It is such a difficult country. Of course, I am happy for him. I am happy about his job. There is no doubt about that, but I am also worried. It's a mixed feeling."

When her father became prime minister her mobility got restricted.

The work she was doing earlier required her to travel extensively, go to villages, meet people from all walks of life for research. That was not something she could do once her father became prime minister. One reason was the security. Now whenever she travels it is never spontaneous, but always pre-planned.

"Matlab, kahin bhi jana ho to bataa ke jana hai (I have to inform them about wherever I go). You just can't land up somewhere like I used to do earlier. The whole administration is involved in our travel. If I go to any district headquarters, the district collector, superintendent of police and everyone else is informed that I am reaching there. They make sure everything goes well. And, there should be no security issue."

That was incompatible with her work. People would not talk to her freely now the way they did.

"People didn't open up because of this bandobast and, secondly, in the eyes of people I was a different person. Most were not seeing me, they were seeing my father's image in me. In districts everybody used to be so happy that I have come, they all wanted to have photographs taken with me, they wanted to garland me. When the time came to talk about the real development-related issues it became superficial and very ceremonial. I thought I could not do justice to my work. So I reduced my work gradually. It is not because my father became PM that I am writing. But I took it as an opportunity and a blessing. In the beginning I was very resentful."

"I would tell my father, 'It's all very well with you. You have got a nice job. But what about me? My work (to research development issues) has virtually become impossible'."

"I don't want to give the idea that writing was a kind of pastime for me," she emphasises. "I always, always wanted to write. This happened to be the right time. I do think that writing has added to my identity in the sense that I feel the pleasure of expressing myself. To put your thoughts into words and share them with other people is a new event. I am the same person, I haven't changed.'

"By the way," she adds, "I should not give the impression that security is an issue. I am very fond of the young men who protect me. They are a very sweet lot. I know all of them by name. I encourage them to speak freely to me/"

Also see: PM resting, listening to Ghalib, says daughter
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