‘The key to her cupboard is with me. People have been requesting me to open it.’
‘I’ve made it very clear. Nothing in her room or cupboard will be touched as long as I am there.’
The immortal Lata Mangeshkar’s home Prabhu Kunj in south Mumbai wears a deserted look. It is now occupied only by her youngest sibling, Usha Mangeshkar.
Days after Lataji‘s birth anniversary on September 28, Ushaji speaks to Subhash K Jha in an exclusive chat about life after her Didi’s death: “Main yahan bilkul akeli ho gayi hoon. Didi has left us. Even saying those words are difficult for me. I miss her every second of the day.
“Among all us siblings, I was the closest to her. I couldn’t take a step without consulting Didi. Even the sari I wore every day was after consulting her. ‘Didi, main aaj gulabi sari pehnu ya neela?‘ My day moved ahead only with her approval. And now…”
“I am sorry I wasn’t able to answer your calls,” she explains. “Our brother (Hridaynath Mangeshkar) was in bad health during the past one year. He was Didi’s laadla. He is our laadla. He had to go through a complicated surgery, but is fine now.”
“If Didi were here, she would have been so pained to see our brother suffer this way.”
Ushaji feels Didi’s presence everywhere: “I know she is watching over us. The scent of her favourite perfume and agarbatti is everywhere in the house. I haven’t allowed anyone to touch anything in her room.
“The key to her cupboard is safely with me. People have been requesting me to open it. Some want her saris, others want a bangle… But I’ve made it very clear. Nothing in her room or cupboard will be touched as long as I am there. When I am gone, they can do what they like. As far as I am concerned, Didi is with us.”
Ushaji reveals how Didi kept recording her brother’s compositions till the end.
“She could barely walk but she sang the songs our brother composed at home, determined not to give up.”
“She was not only our guardian, she was also the heartbeat of the family. People would come to our home just for a glimpse of her. Now, there are hardly any guests.”
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