I'm still numb as I write this---Sudhir passed away suddenly on 19th. October---- just within 24 hours of our arrival in L.A.The Flight began badly---after we boarded at Mumbai Sudhir couldn't find his wallet---and he panicked!!!It contained his Credit Cards and since it was early morning--0.50 a.m. it was a bit difficult to cancel these from the Airplane---just before Take Off!!However he went back to the Security Post and there finally discovered the dratted thing in one of his pockets!!This put a damper on our moods but in the morning everything came back into perspective.As we boarded our flight to L.A. at Amsterdam there was another hiccup---instead of the South Asian meal I'd asked for him there was a Hindu Meal instead---tasteless boiled stuff!!!The Air Hostess reassured him that he wouldn't have to eat it and asked him to choose from the other Entrees on the onboard Menu Card and we settled down to a smooth flight.However, as usual he preferred to forego his Meal for just 2-3 Bread Rolls,Butter and Jam instead---but this too was normal---he just couldn't eat on a flight---and my healthy appetite always irritated him---besides the fact that I'd get plenty of sleep en route!!We reached L.A. a little early but Immigration was extremely crowded---hence very slow.Finally clearing Customs we joined the queue at the exit the entire process taking almost 2 hours.
There was more to follow.Lotta and Mehul met us at the Airport with news of her father-in-law's hospitalisation.He had been put in E R (ICU) after chest pains around the time we boarded at Mumbai.We drove straight to the Hospital and from there home where finally we settled down and he slept.Our grand daughter Meha arrived home shortly after and woke him up----telling him how handsome he was---how sharp his nose was etc.etc.Then she shooed me out of the room and talked to him about School,her friends and plenty of other things----bringing him up to date with her life .The next morning she insisted that he wave her off as she drove off to School.Then he had his Breakfast---everything was so normal---there wasn't a single discordant note!!After Mehul and his mother left for the Hospital I went back to bed for I was feeling sleepy---leaving father and daughter to catch up.Sometime around 10-55 a.m. he went for his shower and around 11.10 a.m. I heard a crash--like something falling.I woke up with a start---and stretched out my arm to his side of the bed--it was empty.So I got up and knocked on the Bathroom door---and called his name---he groaned in reply!!!I called Lotta and when the door didn't open she used her key to do so----and there he was stretched out on the floor!!He had pitched forward on his face----the last thing I remember saying is "Call 911" to Lotta.
By the time they arrived the groans had petered out and he'd stopped breathing---they tried to resurrect him but to no avail---he was gone!!Since then I'm completely numb---my life lies in shambles around me and I'm surviving day to day.I performed all the last Rites myself---for in those last few moments I promised him that I'll stay with him as long as he needed me.Lotta's father-in-law had an Open Heart Surgery---a quadruple By Pass--- the day after we cremated Sudhir.Since then he's getting better each day----but it was an extremely painful and trying time for us.All our nieces and nephews flew down for the Funeral---Sudhir's sister-in-law and our nephew flew in from Mumbai for just those few days.His daughters and sons-in-law sent him off in style by giving him a very beautifully poignant farewell---I'm sure he'd have been touched by it!!
I fly back home on the 22nd. November---though Lotta and Mehul would want me to stay longer.I want to go back home---for I feel he;s waiting there for me!!!
I'm not upset about Ageing---it's a natural process---and Death is Life's ultimate Conclusion---all agreed!!!However when Idols pass away and merge into Eternity---they leave behind a lingering Sadness---and a hankering for the days that were!!
Dev Anand,Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor were my favourites and still are.Of these Shammi Kapoor passed away recently---on the 14th. of August.As a child---at age 4 years--- I first saw Shammi Kapoor in "Tumsa nahin Dekha" and flipped!!!His sense of Rhythm had me mesmerised----and he was the one with all the peppy Rock 'n' Roll numbers!!Till then all Bollywood Films had a story to tell---his Films were sheer Entertainment.His ghost Voice was Mohammad Rafi and how I adored that Voice!!!Add the beautiful Velvet voices of Geeta Dutt/Asha Bhonsle and you have intoxicating Songs!!!Even today I never miss re-runs of Shammi Kapoor's Films---and despite having watched these often get caught up in the Film---such is his Charisma!!I still remember my chance Meeting with him--2 years ago.Sudhir and I had gone out to Lunch and as we were leaving,Shammi Kapoor entered on his Wheelchair---accompanied by his wife.Seeing him I behaved like a Star struck teenager---and dropping to my knees beside him---took his hand in mine.I was so overwhelmed that I was struggling for words!!!However when I found my voice I thanked him for making my world so special.His cultured and dignified presence commanded Respect---and I came away from that chance meeting extremely happy at having met him!!His Songs were my constant companions over the years as I grew from Childhood to to Adolescence and then further to Womanhood----and today even as I age those Songs continue to keep me company---for I have different Moods--Peppy,Romantic and Light---all duly categorized and taped!!And today Youtube helps a lot---I can view my Favourite Songs at the click of a Button---and again Time stands still before my fascinated gaze!!
The next one to pass away was Jagjit Singh on 10th. October this year.A Ghazal Singer of International repute both he and his wife Chitra sang together and we became their fans from the mid 70s when they began making their mark in Ghazal singing as a couple.Sudhir simply loved these Ghazals and we've passed many a hot afternoon in Summer Vacations listening to these playing softly in the background.Those days our Music System was placed in our Bedroom---and many Monsoon nights acquired a special feel when with dimmed lights we allowed the magic of Ghazals to wash over us against the Rain falling rhythmically in the background.The beautiful Urdu Couplets set to langorous Music weaving a Spell around Heart and Soul has to be experienced---the beauty of it cannot be described!!My special favourite was their rendition of two separate Ghazals "Yaar ko mainein Mujhey Yaar ney" woven into a single Ghazal--sung as a Duet by both Jagjit and Chitra---it remains my favourite to date!!Today those days are gone and we're all older.The Memories connected to each nuance of every Note linger on---and will do so forever!!!Rest in Peace Dear Favourites!!!
As usual Mumbai is hot during the day but the nights and mornings are turning crisp and cool---Autumn is finally here!!There is this Almond Tree outside my Bedroom window---and it's large Green Leaves are slowly changing colour to a rich rusty Scarlet----contrasting beautifully against the deepening Blue of the Sky!!!The hot Sunlight too has the sheen of mellow,antique Gold---gilding the Leaves and bringing back hoarded memories of the Autumns of Childhood.The sight of the thrusting Bronze and Gold Spears of the Silver Oak against a background of a deep Azure Sky had inspired me to paint an Abstract---one of my father's favourites it stood on the Mantelpiece occupying a place of Pride in our Drawing Room!!To me the deep Purple Mountains etched against the Cobalt Sky is another Memory I love.The deepening Dusk in the Autumn carries a Velvety feel to it---and when the night Sky is spangled with Stars---it is a mesmerising sight to behold!!This is the best time of the year for me!!
Just before Diwali we have the Sharad Pournima--or Kojagiri as it is called in Marathi.On that day the Moon hangs like a glowing Yellow Lantern in the Sky--large,glowing and full!!That day is also called "Navanna Pournima" of the Harvest Moon---for the Rice Crop is harvested then and the first time new Rice is ceremoniously cooked on that day.The full Moon rises early and travels slowly upwards shedding it's glimmering Light---peeping through the feathery Fronds of the Coconut Palms waving in the Garden.Traditionally a huge pot of Sweetened Milk flavoured with Saffron and some other Spices is covered by a thin Muslin Cloth and left on the open Terraces of Buildings and homes to absorb the Moonlight---and is drunk after midnight--believing to be full of the Moon's mystically magical properties!!During my childhood we would all spread a thin Carpet on the Terrace and just glory in the Silvery brightness---singing and dancing to pass the time.Each Moonlit night is special and magical---but this is the best of all---the Ultimate one!!This year it falls on the 11th of October---if you don't believe me just take a look at the Moon that day!!
For me the nights of early Autumn arefull of a mysterious mystique!!Somehow the very Air breathes Magic!!In North India specially the Air is redolent with the scent of heady Flowers like Narcissii,Chrysanthemums,Sweet Peas and various Lilies.The deep Blue of Larkspur, the deep Purple of the Pansies contrasts beautifully against the deep hot Scarlet of the Poppies tossing their heads in the gentle gusts of the Breeze playing through the Flower Beds.I also love the rich buttery Gold of the King Cups and Butter Cups---the entire Garden a Picture in beautiful, contrasting, vibrant hues---the Atmosphere heady with the pervading scent of Roses--how I miss those days--specially in the Autumn!!The fallen Leaves are raked up and Bon Fires are lit--scenting the Air with a smoky aroma---a mixture of Eucalyptus Leaves mixed with various others. To me this smoky scent is what symbolises Autumn to me--a Mystical Magical Season before Winter hits us!!
Life is a Beautiful and Colourful Mural-----painted with a myriad colours splashed next to each other---the bright Reds,Greens and warm shades of Happiness interspersed with the sombre shades of Sadness---Blue , Grey and Black balancing the brilliance of the hotter Shades!!Yet all these together create a wonderful Life well lived!!!The old Julie Andrews Song from "the Sound of Music" Musical is a wonderful tribute to all those Simple Things that uplift both Body and Soul to create a sublime sense of being Alive!!!
I'm an extremely Positive person---like a Ball I bounce back each time after any Crisis----and can never remain sad or depressed for long.Today when I look back over the years I realise that there are certain moments that are my most precious Memories of all!!The two such moments that take precedence over all the others are connected to the Love of my Life---Sudhir.One evening after our Engagement in December 1969,we were driving down Mumbai's beautiful Marine Drive or "Queen's Necklace" as it is called.The Sun was setting over the Sea in the background and we were discussing a Film we'd just seen.As Sudhir turned to look at me a shaft of the mellow Rays of the Sun struck his face---and I was mesmerised by the sight.I can still clearly remember the soft halo it created around his head and turned his eyes into a liquid Golden Amber---combined with his aquiline nose and thin cheeks it turned him into a Greek God---and took my breath away!!The next time was when he flew down unexpectedly to Chandigarh during the few months after the Engagement and before we got married.I came home from College but wasn't told anything about his having come down.I climbed the Stairs to my Bedroom and there he was sitting on my Bed--his eyes lit up with Mischeif and a beautiful smile playing on his lips---anticipating my incredulously joyous reaction!!I think I fell even more deeply in love with him---if it is possible----and since then have always loved both his beautiful Amber Eyes and his mesmerising smile----it is a smile full of Love and Tenderness---reserved only for me!!After almost 42 years together both of these still have the power to make my Pulse race!!
The other special moments are connected to my daughters and their births.Both the births were long drawn out and difficult but normal.Lotta was born after a labour of 8 days---literally a few hours before they were to perform a Ceasarean Operation.Due to a bad Haemorrage I became unconcious and when I revived the Staff Nurse put Lotta next to me.I was so eager to see what my baby looked like---and gazed at her round little face ecstatically while she looked at me for a minute---then screwed up her tiny button of a nose and turned away as if disappointed---definitely not liking what she saw!!Sayali on the other hand was born normally after I ingested an amount of Castor Oil twice---to quicken my Labour given the antecedents---and when they laid her in my arms all nicely swaddled---that tiny little mouth--so beautifully shaped---started nuzzling me frantically in search of Nourishment!!What I looked like was not the Issue--I was her mother---and she was ravenously hungry!!!
The one birth though totally etched in my mind is when my Grand Daughter was born.That moment was completely unlike anything else I'd ever experienced before!!My first sight of her was a fair,rosy cheeked little baby with a Rosebud mouth,tiny eyes almond shaped slits and a thick thatch of black hair on her head---her rounded little limbs exposed as the Staff Nurse presented her to two sets of Grandparents waiting anxiously outside the Labour Room.Suddenly the Almond shaped slits opened to reveal Grey eyes and a tiny Starfish shaped hand emerged as a fist uncurled---and then curled again---this time round my heart!!!In that single moment I fell under her Spell and became her willing Slave---and have remained so since then!!The eyes have now turned Sherry coloured and that tiny frame now measures 5'8"---- very leggy and slim to look at with masses of long,thick Midnight Black hair---and the Rosebud mouth talks nineteen to the dozen till somebody has to shut her up for a moment of Peace and Quiet!!!But when that beautiful coltish creature flies with arms outstretched towards us at the Airport to hug the two us tight at the same time---enveloping our necks with her slender but strong arms---almost strangling us in in the process---the rush of Love it creates is it's own reward !!
The human Mind is incomprehensible---like a famous Marathi Writer Jaywant Dalvi once said--it is like a "Maha Saagar" or an Ocean---and only God knows how to plumb it's depths!!!Vasanthi Maushi's Surgery was performed successfully yesterday and by Saturday she will be discharged from the Hospital.As expected her Convalescence is a problem.
She is a very rich lady but is not willing to pay for hired help---expecting one of us---her neices and nephews to fulfill our "Duty"----and in spite of her problem and present predicament---has not learnt her lesson.Since her Money was tied up in her Account we paid for the Operation and Hospitalisation and to give her due credit---a Sum she says she will repay once she is well enough---and we know she will too.What she does not understand is that we did what we did as our Duty towards her as our Aunt---not for whatever "Rewards" we may recieve after she passes on!!Even today despite her Epilepsy she is far healthier than most of us who are facing various Health Problems.Only God knows how many of us will precede her to the Other side---and I am serious when I say this.
When one of my Cousins offered to contribute towards the entire Treatment her reaction to that was that actually he shouldn't even expect repayment---because she was leaving him a certain Amount in her Will----reducing his spontaneous and generous gesture to nothing!!I don't know when she will understand that not a single one of us wants or needs her Money---in fact we've helped without any Expectations of repayment!!!She however is bent on calling it our "bounden" Duty to care for her---and expects it as a right.Since I'm leaving for the States I cannot have her here as closing up the House and putting things in order before I leave needs all my efforts---and as I tire easily I have to space myself out to finish all the Chores it entails.Besides looking after such a cantankerous and difficult person is extremely draining both emotionally and physically!!!Mikki too cannot look after her as she does not have Domestic help at present---so there will be no one to keep an eye on her once she leaves for Work.It has fallen to Ritu's lot to look after her---and she is busy making arrangements for a hot Fresh Hygenic Lunch to be delivered home to her (Ritu's) Flat 5 days a week and has already promised overtime pay to Vijeta,her Domestic help to baby sit our Aunt during the day for 10 days after her discharge from Hospital!!!
That old Adage is so true---Blood IS thicker than Water!!!