Its 6:05am in Koh Samui, Thailand.
Just woke up
My 4-month pregnant wife next to me.
At first, I gulped down to check if my throat was still sore.
It wasn’t as bad as yesterday.
It’s been 5 days since I fell severely ill.
Day 3 of my sickness was horrible.
Horrible. Terrible. Miserable.
There were fears of me suffering a bout of Dengue Fever, however, as luck would have it, I just had a bad case of Fever, Cough, Cold — everything at its worst, at once.
My wifey — 26-year-old-woman whose entire upbringing was based on a foundation of simplicity, hard-work and service, she wiped my naked body, putting wet towels on all areas of my body to bring my fever down.
I never asked her what to do.
Never told her what to do.
Never requested her for help.
But she did whatever she had to.
I kept slipping in and out of a semi-conscious state, shivering in pain, fever & chills and I knew she was there. I was glad she was there.
So day 5 of my sickness, I was healing up.
I switched on my smartphone to check for updates.
As usual, I was flooded with around 1,000 or so notifications.
Then I checked my whatsapp to see if any of my clients or groups had anything worthwhile apart from all the rubbish forwards and unnecessary small talk.
My eyes moved to an update:
At first, I thought it was yet another Hoax, after all Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Sylvester Stallone kept getting killed due to natural causes every week thanks to the internet.
I immediately checked google and to my shock and surprise, it was true!
I couldn’t believe it.
For a woman who was only 54 years old, who was a global icon for the Indian Cinema, whose movies I watched as a child from Nagina to Mr. India, Chandini to Lamhe was something no one — absolutely no one could forget. And who would ever forget her song/dance routines of being Charlie Chaplin in Mr. India, ‘Hawa Hawaii’ & ‘Kaate nahin kat te’ (Mr. India).
And when you thought her career with the Indian Cinema was over, she made a shocking comeback with English Vinglish which completely shocked and impressed everyone! She had the class of Meryl Streep, the charm of Audrey Hepburn and a performance worthy of an Oscar.
I thought about all these moments as I lay on my bed next to my wife. And then I took my smartphone, showed my wife Sridevi’s picture and asked her what did she think about her?
My Thai wifey who has no idea about Indian actors or actresses (for that matter anything of my world), she immediately exclaimed “She so beautiful. She Miss India?”
I told her, she is a very famous movie star but she died today.
My wifey was shocked, she held my phone to look at her face and then said, “She so beautiful. So sad no she die?”
I said yes.
And then my wife told me, “I look at her face most, so our baby can look like her. She so beautiful, she look she have good heart. I want baby look like her.”
I allowed my wifey to have her moments to allow whatever she believed, while I just reflected on life.
It amazing how my generation and all what I lived with, grew up with and was inspired by, is now disappearing one by one. It just reminds me every single day that life is too short. And I do not know if I will be next.
Sridevi was a icon to the world. But to me, she was this sweet homely woman whom I could relate to as a family member though I never knew her personally. To me, she was someone I looked at — as a mother, a sister, an aunt or someone I would call as my family.
In a day and age where actresses and actors have to show their bodies and go to the extreme just to break through a ultra-competitive, extremely cut-throat and hyper unpredictable market — she did it on the foundation of sheer talent, hard-work and an incredible character. Though she wasn’t perfect, in my eyes, she represented beauty, charm, grace, character, love and family. And that is why I always felt a sense of connection when I did see her as a child on the screen. To me — I could relate to her. She represented me, my hopes and my aspirations.
At 6:32 am, as me and my wifey looked at Sridevi’s face for one last time, I had to remind myself of a simple truth— “Life is too short and before you know it, its gone forever.”
There will never be another Sridevi ever again. And this is the reality of our lives we will have to live with.
You live only once my friend.
You never know when it will be your last.
Just make sure, these moments of your life, the moment RIGHT NOW…..they count.
Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan
13 August 1963–24 February 2018