Delilah has taught for over 40 years at the University of Rajasthan; her academic research work focusing on leaf concentrate and protein supplements to combat anemia and boost antenatal vitality in pregnant women has served socio-economically challenged communities in Rajasthan and other parts of the country. She is happiest in the company of her grand-children, and a thimble-full o' brandy never goes amiss.
Q1: What are your favourite memories from the house of your childhood?
A: I remember so many picnics and playing with my siblings in a house full of trees in an amazing garden. We spent most of our childhood in Alwar, my father was an engineer there and we had a huge house with so many rooms and never-ending nooks – there could be no house bigger than ours! But when we went to visit after growing up we realised it wasn’t actually that big at all. Our world was so small as children, and our imaginations huge.
Q2: Do you remember what school was like?
A: In Alwar I was in Happy School, and in the first period all the small kids used to go to the verandah and sit in rows. And we would all use the takli – it’s a small spindle with a circular base, and you have a pony of cotton that you’ve to fix in the hook and then spin it to draw a thread, it’s quite a lot of fun! And the other thing I remember vividly is the kitchen garden – all the children would help in sowing seeds and tilling the soil, and when the produce of tomatoes and laal mooli was done we could sell it in school! Those were the late 1950s.
Q3: What do your friends and family call you? Is there a story behind it?
A: Delilah. Everyone asks me, ‘why Delilah’? When I was born in 1950, the film Samson & Delilah was running in the cinema and the actress who played the role of Delilah was very beautiful. So one day my masi went to watch it and came back and looked at me – I was a beautiful baby apparently (giggles) – and said ‘this is our Delilah’. Of course years later I saw the film myself and found out Delilah was a wicked woman! But I’m not!
Q4: What do you like most about yourself?
A: I’m a simple person and I like simple things. I suppose that’s what I like about me – my simplicity?
Q5: Are there any family traditions that you cherish more than others?
A: Welcoming everyone in our house, and making all our guests feel welcome. Khaatirdaari. And watching Tom & Jerry!
Q6: Most rewarding part of your life?
A: The love, affection and respect I’ve received over the years from my students in my long career as a teacher. My career has been very fulfilling for me, my research and all the work has been very satisfying.
Q7: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My two daughters.
Q8. Who makes you laugh?
A: Tom & Jerry!
Q9. Something that you wear the most?
A: My nose-pin.