Kinni Didi is an inspiration to her sisters, plays tennis and tops her university with equal aplomb, and is the first girl in Amritsar to drive a “Luna moped”. She combats eve teasing with her “boy cut” hairstyle, hates the pomp of wedding ceremonies and idolises Martin Luther King and Indira Gandhi.
A day before counting of votes in the Capital, at a meeting to thank party volunteers from her constituency Krishna Nagar, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi released a comic book — the first in a series — on her life, calling on people to make it the “guide to good parenting”.
“Do you want your children to be like me? Do you want your children to be leaders? Then read this… I have brought this for your children,” Bedi told volunteers at the “abhaar samaroh” organised at Karkardooma on Monday.
“Kiran Bedi was not born like this. Does a seed know what kind of gardener will nurture it? I became like this because of my sisters. We are four sisters, three in different parts of the world and one in Krishna Nagar,” Bedi joked.
The comic has been authored by Bedi’s sisters Rita Peshavaria Menon and Anu Peshavaria. According to the book’s introduction, it is meant to “answer the many questions asked about our sister, like how she grew up, what are her inspirations, how did she become so fearless, what did she do when boys teased her, what does she eat, what did she do differently to become a mahaan hasti… We wanted to give answers through this comic so that future generations can be inspired and learn from her.”
Bedi said that the series, which outlines her life “before, during and after donning the khaki”, was possible because of her habit of keeping newspaper cuttings, which she picked up from her father.
The comic was funded by Menon’s fellowship fund, under the auspices of Bedi’s NGO, the India Vision Foundation.
Having fought a bitter contest against the AAP, Bedi on Monday said, “I have been asked if I am getting nervous. If you read this book, you will know that at 14, I was a state champion; at 16, I became a national champion and at 20, I won the Asian tennis championship. I have seen many matches and this is just another match. I have seen that when I give everything to a match, I always win.”
Beginning with her parents’ financial struggles, the comic chronicles how Bedi’s father stood up against the family to get his daughters educated in an English-medium school, despite struggling to pay their fees. The sisters grew up in Amritsar, where they cycled in fields close to Jallianwala Bagh, and their parents always stressed on the need for outdoor activities, particularly tennis, says the comic.
Several pages are devoted to old newspaper articles chronicling the tennis championships Bedi won. Notes scribbled by her father before matches have also been reproduced in the comic.
Instances from her life — like how she could not sleep after witnessing a dowry ceremony during a wedding, chopping off her hair to be “free” while playing tennis, the first autograph she gave after winning a tennis championship, and becoming the “first girl in Amritsar to drive a two wheeler, a Luna moped” — are written about in detail.
The comic also contains images of young students sitting around Bedi, asking her questions such as “Have you ever worn a sari” and “Do you ever want to go abroad”, and Bedi’s responses like: “Most of the time, I stay outside and play or cycle. I feel more comfortable in pants so I have not worn a sari yet.”
Two pages are about a press conference Bedi attended after becoming the first woman officer to be inducted into the IPS. In it is this exchange: “You are the first woman officer, so there is no uniform for you,” says someone at the conference. Bedi responds: “I don’t mind wearing the men’s uniform; I spend most of my time in tracks.”
The comic also talks about how Bedi “even found the time to love”, with images of Bedi and her to-be husband meeting and eventually getting married in a “simple ceremony… jahan dahej bilkul nahi diya, liya gaya” in 1972.
The comic also has images of Bedi leading the Delhi Police contingent on Republic Day, and hugging her teary-eyed mother afterwards.
The 32-page comic book concludes with Bedi becoming the first woman IPS officer, with images of her learning skills such as target shooting, rifle training and horse riding. The last image in the comic shows Bedi becoming the mother of a “sundar kanya”.
The last page has teaser images of upcoming comic books in the series: Bedi with a stick battling a man, from the time she controlled riots at India gate in 1979, and another image from 1982 of Bedi leaning out of a car and “controlling traffic” during the Asian games.