Social activist, theater, film & television actress, film & play director… these are few of the well-known facets of Sushma Seth’s multi-faceted personality. In tête-à-tête with Smita Mishra of Dogs & Pups, we explored new avatars of this versatile actress – an avid animal lover and a responsible pet parent.
Some remember Sushma Seth as ‘Bari Mummy’ of Dekh Bhai Dekh – a comedy serial, which was a rage of its time, while others love her as ‘Lajjo Kapur’ of Kal Ho Na Ho. Well! D&P would love to introduce her as an avid animal lover, who’s been always owned by a furry-friend. At the same time, it would be unfair, if we miss-out to mention her outstanding performances in movies like Prem Rog, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Tawaif, Chandni, Deewana, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, etc.
In reel life, she showered her tender ‘Mamma love’ on almost every Bollywood star, including Rishi Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Anil Kapoor and Preity Zinta. In real life, she is no different…she’s her grandchildren’s sweetheart; they all just love and adore her. What they inherit from Sushma is to give unconditional love…to all living beings.
For South Delhi residents, Sushma is better known as a social activist, who looks after the well-being of strays in- &-around, her locality. So when did it all started and she went nostalgic and shared, “As a young child, we lived in a joint family with 20 other children and had ample companionship.” A student of Convent of Jesus & Mary, New Delhi, she won a scholarship to study Drama and graduated from Carnegie Melon in the USA. And when she returned from US…it was a never-ending tale of woof delights. “Our family had got Dimpy – a Pekingese. She was the prettiest and most well-mannered dog, anyone can ask for. I still remember, how she used to wait for my father to come back from work and take her out for a walk. She was always at the top of stairs…waiting for him. She was loved and pampered by all of us. We shared 12 long years of pawfect fun and happiness.”
There were more Paw-tales to unfold… and she continued, “After Dimpy, we shared our lives with Bobby – a pariah, but he was nowhere like Dimpy. While, Dimpy was a gentle lady…Bobby was quite a vagabond…he just loved the outdoors.”
Like Mumma…like Son… and daughter too… Sushma’s children Kavi, Divya, Priya, daughter-in-law Geetika, and son-in-law Vikram inherit the same love and compassion for animals. “When Divya was around 7-8 years old, she wanted a pet desperately. On one Christmas Eve, she found a cute little ball of fur with a red bow tied around her neck as a present; she was amazed. Tippy – a Lhasa Terrier, as we called her, filled our lives with fun. Her antics added all the hues of happiness. She was with us for 15 years. And Divya took care of her with all her heart.”
“And once, Priya brought home Peppy – a Lhasa Apso. He was one magnanimous dog, who went through several personality changes and finally became the cynosure of all eyes. And he was with us for 14 years,” she further added.
Having such a cherishing pet-parenthood… all she wanted is to have a doggie home. And now, the grandchildren are moving the baton forward. Presently, she has a fun loving and always charged up Pepper – English Cocker Spaniel at home. Her granddaughter Ananya loves the companionship of her brother and she insisted, “For our family, he’s not a pet, he is our family member and for my parents – Vikram & Priya, Pepper is as special as me.”
Pepper’s day starts with Sushma, she is the first one, who takes him out for the morning walks. This is the most unadulterated moment they both share together. And the unconditional love that she gets in return is unmatched. “The love and loyalty of these mute-creatures is unbelievable. They understand our moods better than our best human companions. They express love, happiness, sorrow, anger…in fact all possible human emotions. Our furry-angels never hold a grudge, they are always loving… unconditionally,” she added.
“Our favourite activity together is sleeping,” said Tarika, Nainika and Ananya…they all just love to sleep with their pets. And Tarika, Sushma’s grand daughter shared, “All our pets just have same three bed rules and it says – Bed is mine, Quilt is mine and Pillow is mine.” And here comes another one, “You know at night, we keep falling off the bed as Oreo – a Cocker Spaniel thinks he owns it all. But we love it,” added Tarika’s little sister, Nainika.
Between so much affection and bonding, is there any annoying habit… unexpectedly we did get some interesting answers as well. “Pepper refuses to allow sweepers to clean the floor. He picks up the duster and sits on it…possessively,” said Sushma. And the young ones didn’t miss to make their point as well. “He just loves rubber bands and every time, he see one on our hair, he will just snatch it…like he just did,” Tarika explained showing her open braid…with missing rubber band of course. And Pepper was busy playing with it.
Now our readers can easily anticipate that there’s no end to Seth-Canine bonding…but on a concluding note, Sushma poured her heart out about the miserable condition of pets in particular and pariahs in general, and said, “People keep pets, but in some cases they are being looked after by the house-help or watchman, who sometimes treat them badly. So, to have a pet…one has to understand the meaning of a pet, he’s like a child, we ourselves have to take care of all his basic needs and emotional requirements.”
Like a pawfect pooch lover, she didn’t forget to appeal and added, “In Delhi winters, it becomes very difficult for the pariahs to survive and for newborn pups and their mother, it’s an ordeal. So next time, you hear any groans or whining, don’t just ignore them. Give them warmth and love…. by providing them with old jackets and sweaters.” And canine lovers would certainly nod their heads in agreement.