The ambitious teenager would wake up every morning and head to the retail shop. She had secured herself a job, and that filled her with great pride. She badly wanted to succeed, and her eye was on radio. She wanted to be a household name in Kenya.
And so, while working the counters, she sent job applications to various radio stations, and amidst the numerous rejections, came a Yes. To start on the graveyard shift, almost literally because, how many people are listening to radio between 11pm and 1am?
But she passionately did it anyway. Well, they say good work eventually gets recognised, and she finally landed at Capital FM, and that is when Kenyans awakened to the fact that the trendy, and savvy Pinky Ghelani had arrived. Her star shown for years, but she had to redefine her path. She was older now and her personal life had taken her through the wringer.
She could no longer fit in the box that the world had placed her in. And once again she had to evolve. She quit radio and went off the glare of the cameras. Not to mean that nothing much has been happening, but that like a serene swan on water, her feet were furiously kicking in the pond. A pond fraught with personal tragedies and professional hits and misses.
What has the private life Pinky Ghelani been up to?
What haven’t I been up to? (Laughs). Let’s see; I am launching my communications company. I have spoken at several forums like TedX, This Is My Story, Dadasphere and Engage and I consider myself now a public speaker.
I work with UNHCR and currently focused on the LuQuLuQu campaign that speaks for refugees in our country. I am working on the My Power of Her Initiative, a push for empowered women to empower other women, and I am currently on track to raise Sh5 million for women refugees under the initiative.
Every Monday, I run a panel at Westgate known as What Women Want, where women- experts and learners, come together to discuss everything from finance to beauty.
You left radio just as you were becoming a household name…
I left radio in 2004. I had joined when I was 18 and I felt like I had reached a ceiling. I got married, tried to have a baby and failed. I have had four miscarriages so far.
After the first one, I needed to get out of my slumber, because losing a child left me depressed. So when an opportunity arose for me to be the editor of DRUM magazine, I jumped at it. But four months into the job I was very sickly pregnant with my daughter. I kept asking God why he would give me this great opportunity then let me be so unwell.
Four miscarriages are a lot. How did you deal with that?
What I learned through them is that we are not talking about it enough. We need to be talking about it because it is normal, and as women we don’t realise that. We tend to blame ourselves. Also, we don’t really support a woman who has gone through a miscarriage.
At the end of the day, no matter how fast she lost her child, she still lost a child and we need to stand with her in her mourning and grieving. We need to allow her the space to go through it. It is heart-breaking but we have to normalise it so that there is no longer the black cloud or stigma of losing a child through a miscarriage.
You speak a lot about your marriage, and how being older than your husband is not a big deal....
Many people go…“Oh my God, she’s so much older than Raj! Oh my God, what does he see in her?” Hello, it is just a three-year difference. It’s no big deal. Age ain’t nothing but a number. We are not getting grey any time soon.
I think when it comes to relationships, you have to really be able to connect with the person that you are with. Be open and honest. It is very difficult because you have some very ugly moments. How you handle those moments is what defines your relationship.
I started dating my husband when I was working. He was a student in the UK and I was hung up on him so I resigned and followed him to the UK where I started working at Zee TV.
Best marriage advice you ever heard?
My yoga instructor always says: “When it feels uncomfortable and you want to let go, that’s the time you’re actually growing.”
I use that principle in all the areas of my life. In marriage, it happens. It is not all love hearts, candy floss, sugar sweet kisses. No. There are some real ugly moments in relationships.
But the truth of the matter is that your choice is made when you decide to be with the person that you want to be with. When you have seen them at their lowest and at their ugliest.
At 43 now, what is the one thing you know for sure about life?
That you have to live unapologetically and to teach others the same. You have to learn to love yourself.
I do not mean in an egotistical way, I mean getting down and dirty with your soul. With who you really are. When you are alone and you think no one is watching and you do something – that is who you really are.
That is the person you need to get to know completely and love without negotiation and without apology. Once you learn to love who you are, that is when you step into your true power.