Deccan Chronicle

Book Review | Here are Alyque Padamsee's thoughts on the New Joint Family

Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent

Published on: April 2, 2022 | Updated on: April 2, 2022

It's a joint responsibility to create a joint family, says Alyque Padamsee

Cover Image of the book 'Let Me Hijack Your Mind' by Alyque Padamsee and Vandana Saxena Poria. (By Arrangement)

Cover Image of the book 'Let Me Hijack Your Mind' by Alyque Padamsee and Vandana Saxena Poria. (By Arrangement)

I was talking to a friend about joint families, and I said, "I’ve got a joint family." He said, "What rubbish! Joint families are old-fashioned; you’re modern."

I said "My three ex-wives, my children and I celebrate each other’s birthdays by having a party. That’s a joint family. We’re separated through divorce but we’re there emotionally and in spirit."

He thought it was very funny and very cute. And that led me to think that there would be much less tension and meanness in the world if divorced couples were friends. Parting amicably. I find that divorced couples rarely speak to each other again because they’ve said such slanderous things about each other in court.
"That sounds all very well in theory, but how do you do it in practice?" Vandana asks me.

I tell her that I have tried to keep a friendly relationship with my ex-wives and a very strong bond with each of my children. It led to a minor miracle, which happened when my third child, Shazahn was three years old. My first wife Pearl wanted Shazahn to be baptised. I asked her why. Pearl said that she wanted to be Shazahn’s godmother! Goodwill knows no boundaries.

Another time, Pearl was sick with a heart problem. I said to Dolly, "Let’s get presents. And let's go to Pearl’s house. We are all a family. We’re divorced but it's only on paper. We’re still a family."

And from that day onwards. Dolly and Pearl began to talk to each other. Then later Pearl talked to Sharon, who by the way was one of her actresses. Everyone talks to each other, sends WhatsApp messages, and we are together for my birthday every year. We have removed that hate; the edge has been blunted. Honestly, I’m not sure whether they love it. But it’s the new joint family.

"What’s the impact now?"asks Vandana.

Well, when Quasar now has a problem, he goes to see Sharon. And when she has a problem, she rings Q. And Shazahn and Q are the greatest of buddies. We went to Raell’s house for an India-Pakistan cricket match-she invited Quasar, Shazahn and me. We all sat in the drawing room. She put up a big TV screen and we all watched India being beaten by Pakistan. And they were laughing and joking together. I said "Wait a minute, who is that boy? Oh, it’s my second wife’s son, and that’s my first wife’s daughter, ALL laughing and joking together." That’s how it should be. We have to break some of these old ideas. Human relationships cannot be ruled by tradition.

I read a lovely piece by Q. It’s an old piece about family and he talks about when Shazahn was born. He said it was the time when the family, really for him, came together. I personally credit Sharon for bringing us all together.

Marriage IS wonderful while it lasts, but if you get divorced, don't hate the other person. You have a relationship with that person. They must have meant something to you. You just can’t hate them.

So create your own new joint family.

It’s a (Joint) Family Affair

So, how did we manage to keep it all together, between three ex-wives and the kids? Let's hear from them.

"Remember when you’re a kid, every fairy story you’re reading is about the wicked stepmother and how badly she treats the step-child," Quasar says. "Think of Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel or Cinderella... it’s just perpetuated that the stepmother is going to be evil. Whether you like it or not, those kinds of thoughts cross your head as a kid. So, when I heard about Sharon, I thought I was doomed. But Sharon was as far as you can imagine from those stepmothers. She really cared for us, and she also had a brilliant way of making us feel needed. She would call me up when it was coming up to Shazahn’s birthday and tell me I simply had to be there to help out and babysit. I felt great about being asked to be there."

Sharon has a no-nonsense attitude. "Most barriers are man-made," she says. "And if they can be made, they can be unmade. We tend to make judgements about people before we have even met them, especially where broken relationships are involved. Raell and Q were just kids and they didn’t need to be overloaded with stuff their young minds were unable to process. Having come from a separated family, I was determined that I would do whatever was in my power to remove those barriers."

Raell agrees with the others and also credits other members of the family. "Jerry and Rosh (Alyque’s siblings) were very instrumental in influencing Dad that the family unit is very important. He took that to heart and always ensured he had a distinctive relationship with each one of us independently. He also was quite adamant that on his birthday, he only wanted us there, despite having so many close friends and extended family. That cemented us all as a unit."

It’s a joint responsibility to create a joint family.

Extracting the Essence

1. The word love is overused and has become meaningless. Real love does not stand still.

2. Sex is bodily chemistry and unrelated to love.

3. Marriages were invented in a time where it was a necessity.

4. If we have licences for everything else, why not marriage?

5. Don't allow long-standing traditions in the world to make you a hostage of your mind. Your traditions don’t OWN you.

Excerpted with permission from Let Me Hijack Your Mind (Penguin Random House) by Alyque Padamsee

Let Me Hijack Your Mind

Alyque Padamsee and Vandana Saxena Poria

Penguin Random House

pp. 256, Rs.499

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