Today, I find pride in being Tahira Kashyap Khurrana and I find pride in being Tahira Kashyap, which is the name given to me by my parents. So, if today, someone tells me that you are your parents’ daughter, it’s a source of happiness for me. If someone tells me that I am Ayushmann’s wife, even that is a source of happiness for me. Because all of that is me. Growing up is evolution, and I have really evolved over the past three to four years. My perspective of life has changed — not because of cancer, but way before that. From someone who was at the other side of the spectrum, where the glass was always half-empty, it’s always half-full for me now. I have developed my skills by exploring avenues like reading, writing, and watching shows and films, which were always areas of interest, but never career options. That’s the reason why there was a huge disconnect between me and whatever I was doing. There’s hardly any difference between Tahira Kashyap and Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, to be honest. Of course, it feels really nice when people know you for your work and as an individual. Honestly, I’m not obsessed with it, I like to do good work and voice my opinion on things that matter.

I think the idea of a ‘star wife’ has changed over the years. Many people have used this term to describe me. Why isn’t there a concept of a ‘star husband’? I would be very happy if this term isn’t used. I believe in respecting people for who they are and what their work is rather than putting them in a box and labelling them. Chanelling my energy is of utmost importance to me. Am I going to obsess about putting my name out there as Tahira Kashyap or as Tahira? I have absolute clarity that my focus is on concentrating on my life, and a very big aspect of my life involves me being a wife, a mother and a daughter. A very big aspect of my life is being an individual too, and I really want to nourish this individuality too. That’s where my energies are right now – I’m not obsessing over my surname or wondering whether I’m a wife or a mother. I’m all of it and I’m very proud of it.

Take, for example, my decision to share my cancer diagnosis. I didn’t think about sharing it before, but I decided to do it when I saw the stigma attached to it. The doctors told me that many cases go undetected because of the taboo and the stigma that is attached to cancer. Women wouldn’t discuss this with their family. That’s when I decided to share my story, and I’m not going to leave any medium in my quest to do so. I’m going to do whatever I can to get the message of early breast cancer detection out there. My support for Ayushmann comes from a space of loving and respecting each other’s’ jobs. I understand his work and that has been the biggest blessing, and he understands this as well. Our commitment and liking for cinema as a medium also plays a huge role. A film is a commitment, there are a lot of people working on it and a lot of money is riding on you.

After my diagnosis, I told him that ‘I’m going through this but it doesn’t make sense that you give up on your interviews or your promotional activities and you sit in the hospital with me because the session is going to happen whether you’re there or not’. I told him to go do his work, and that would be the biggest source of happiness and accomplishment for both of us. He used to go in the morning, do his interviews and everything, and then come back to the hospital at night and sleep with me. I am a feminist because I believe in equality. Women aren’t better than men but surely enough, they aren’t less as well. Before expecting men to respect them, women should respect and love themselves. I feel once you start holding yourself as a person worth adding value to someone’s life, people around you will also start looking at you with that respect. I still feel guilty about not having spent enough time with my kids. Why does this guilt affect women? I think the current generation should work towards getting rid of this guilt.

Respect and love for each other is the glue that holds our relationship together. We’ve been together for eighteen years now. I was telling him the other day that maine aadhi zindagi tumhare saath hi bita di hai. I feel, when you have problems or obstacles, it creates a ground for you to bind your relationship even more. I feel your relationships get stronger when they pass the difficult phases. Our relationship is strong because we understand each other and respect each others’ work. We trust each other as artists. If someone asked me to describe myself, I would say: Tahira Kashyap Khurrana is complete.