My Daughter & Aryan Khan Were Classmates: This Mother’s Open Letter about Celebrity Parents Addressing SRK-Gauri Is Endearing!20,371 views
What are the fringe benefits if your kids’ classmates parents happen to be celebrities? Let’s make it easy, if superstar SRK and Gauri Khan’s son Aryan is your daughter’s classmate, how will it feel? A different experience? In what regard? Would you like to maintain closeness to them or stay at the bay? Would you want or force your kids to embark a friendship with a superstar’s son, get invites for his IPL matches and sleepover parties or remain aloof or normal?
US-based journalist, Preeti Singh, recently wrote an open letter post for a popular website, where she articulately put into the words – How her daughter went to the same school as Aryan and then found out – SRK-Gauri are as committed a couple as ‘Us.’
The post is simply endearing. It entails how fringes of celebrityhood is a great place to be. But there’s more depth to the matter. How?
Last week, my Facebook timeline lit up with pictures and videos of the graduation ceremony of my daughter’s erstwhile class in Mumbai. When I saw the chief guest, I smiled. It had to be him. Shah Rukh Khan. No one deserved it more because he and his family were at the centre of our little universe in that school, and we were his “Jabra fans”.
But first, a flashback to 2003.
“Look, Shah Rukh Khan’s wife is here. That means Aryan is going to be our kids’ classmate,” commented an excited father as we took the conducted tour through the new school our five-year-olds were joining. I had been gushing over the clean bathrooms – with toilet paper, soap, paper towels and an attendant. As someone who went to schools with toilets so dirty that I have suffered from digestive problems ever since, I was thrilled that my children would be spared the agony.
I turned to see Gauri Khan. Of course I knew her face; as SRK’s wife, she was almost as famous and frequently photographed as her Bollywood husband. As a Dilliwala (as I called myself then), there was a certain possessive pride about SRK… the Delhi boy who came to Mumbai and conquered it. In her dark glasses, Gauri stood alone with her son, until she met some other Bollywood friends and started chatting. Covertly and overtly, all of us watched Gauri. How she talked, what she wore and if she looked arrogant or friendly. No one, including me, dared to walk up to her to make introductions, like we had been doing with the other parents. It could be a very public snub.
I didn’t know it then, but the next decade that my children attended school with SRK’s children would be eventful. Not only because the school was exceptionally good. Or that the library, bright classrooms, cheerful artworks, and yes, the clean bathrooms made the school a happy place to be. Not only because the school ensured safety of our kids at all times, and the teachers were dedicated and worked harder than anyone I ever knew.
In that school, there were many celebrity parents – other Bollywood stars, legendary sportspersons, super-rich business families and top professionals, but SRK was SRK – the first among equals. While SRK and Gauri had no clue who I and dozens of other parents were, their pixie dust changed our lives. Some mothers lost weight to dress up like Gauri, some planned their holidays or bought holiday homes close to the Khans, and others did everything in their power to get their kids to be friends with the Khan kids. And the outside world thought we were royalty too, and best friends with the Khans.
One afternoon my daughter came back with a birthday card from SRK’s son. The party was at Mannat (SRK’s house on Bandstand), and I called on the number provided. Gauri answered the phone. She was sweet, polite, and told me to drop the child at 4.30pm and have her picked up by 7.30pm. Yes, I could send a maid along. That afternoon my phone pinged non-stop. Who was going to the party? One mother said, “My child will cry if I let her go alone. So I will have to go.” Another’s driver was going to be on leave that day and she was driving him all the way from Cuffe Parade, so she would have to attend the party. Yet another would go because her son was Aryan’s bestie.