The 12 Commandments of Being A Woman by Tahira Kashyap could easily pass off as a memoir. The book is full of funny and relatable anecdotes from Tahira’s life. She writes about everything: from ‘feeling like a freak’ as a 13-year-old to peeing in her pants after winning a trophy, to getting a Brazilian and an unplanned pregnancy. There’s no detail too personal. “I am a pretty unfiltered person. I wanted to write everything down and it was very empowering to just let go. I might have given my family members some anxiety when they read the book because nothing has been edited,” she shares on a phone call from her in-law’s home in Chandigarh where she’s been staying during the lockdown. “These days, all conversations around our living room suddenly stop when I enter. I think my family doesn’t want to give me more material for any future books,” she laughs.
About 12 years ago, just before Tahira Kashyap was to tie the knot, her mother-in-law-to-be gave her a present. It was a gift the older woman had traveled from Chandigarh to Delhi to buy and wanted Tahira to wear on her wedding day. The gift was a “pair of bright red lacy bra and panties, another set of the same color in satin, and one lonely thong”, the author and filmmaker writes in her latest book, The 12 Commandments of Being a Woman. “My mother-in-law had high expectations of me. She gave me a size 38D, and here I was struggling to fill a 34, that too with pads,” she says, laughing at the memory.
Of all the family members, obviously the reactions of her husband Ayushmann Khurrana, whom she calls ‘her skinnier half’ mattered the most. “He is the first person to read everything I write. When he was reading my book, I kept looking at him to gauge his reaction. I saw him grimace and grin, and his eyebrows would go up. The one response I consistently got from him was, ‘Are you serious? I thought this stuff was only for the two of us to know’.” Ayushmann’s reactions are quite understandable, considering Tahira’s candor while writing about their relationship that started in school, their early days of marriage, and her struggles to forge an identity of her own now that he is a bonafide movie star. “I thought I was the only one struggling with this, but I realized that as women, most of us become the Earth and the Sun is someone else. Our lives are spent revolving around that person. It is not like Ayushmann asked me to do that; it was something that I did subconsciously,” explains the 37-year-old.
12 Commandments… is the third book she’s written on her own. Taking me through her first solo attempt at non-fiction writing, she adds, “There’s a lot of clarity when you are writing about things that happened in your own life, but it also needs a lot of courage. Now, when I am writing about my 13-year-old self who dragged her mother to a gynaecologist because she didn’t think she was a girl, I see the funny side of things. But when it happened, it was quite traumatising. Revisiting these intense moments took an emotional toll.”
When she isn’t working, Tahira is keeping the kids busy with painting and craft sessions, and bonding with her in-laws. As she writes in her book, ‘They come in all shapes and sizes, and have all kinds of flaws but you simply must love your in-laws.’ You can check out her video here.