Khan’s Death

29th April 2020
11:55 am
HSR, Bangalore

Lockdown 2.0, ongoing. 49days of quarantine, all alone in a 1bhk house, minimal human contact, and total degradation of the daily cycle had already happened. The only people that I have seen for the past 49days are my water-delivery guy, my grocery uncle, and a friend from the next building who helped me keep sane and not drive crazy. Wow!!!

After having a good talk till 3:15 am, I finally decided to sleep, and off I went with 5 alarms set at a gap of 15mins- 9:00, 9:15, and so on…

I have ‘good sleep’ issues and my system has adjusted things accordingly, I think it has!

So the first alarm goes off and I wake up, WhatsApp messages, dropdown notifications, missed calls, too many to check.
Tying the loosened hair to a top-notch, I search for my cigarette pack, taking a stick out, I enter the washroom.

It had rained last night, also I guess in the morning, window panes had droplets. It looked fresh outside. Every time it rains the previous night, I like the view of Bangalore with not too sun rays, not too much traffic, not too congestion and a little more greenery. HSR is a developing area and would soon become one of the planned and poshest areas of Bangalore. Be it the streets, the shops, the offices, the buildings, the eateries, and almost everything, I feel I overdo a little always when it comes to HSR.

Speaking of the view of a fresh morning which I happen to like since it brings various flashes in my mind where I imagine myself opening the door to my balcony, somewhere in the hills, surrounded by clouds entering through the window- cold and chilly. I imagine myself wrapping up a shawl and walking towards the kitchen and making hot black coffee. I imagine myself sitting on the cane swing, and overseeing the entirety of downtown areas, the narrow roads, the vehicles which look tiny, school children in maroon cardigans. That’s the beauty of a hill station and the raw smell of earth.

I inhale the rejuvenating fragrance of rain-soaked land, fresh air, and morning. Lockdown had helped decrease the pollution level as well and the sky is clear all the time.

Taking the milk packet out from my green color Suprdaily insulated bag, I keep it inside the fridge and take out the milk can from last night.
While the tea is almost ready, I play with the gas knob, the tea, and time.

I have a very personal philosophical explanation with regards to making tea. When the tea is prepared, it boils continuously and then I turn the knob to a higher flame and the moment it tries to overflow the can, I sim it again. I do this quite a few times. I enjoy seeing it rise up and going back again- the tea and the tea leaves, as if 2 unfortunate lovers who do not want to part, but still have to because theirs is a love story which nobody would understand, hence they gear up to separate when I turn to high flame and again hold back onto each other when I sim it. I feel sometimes I let them be for a while by keeping it on low flame since I know separation hurts, letting go of the one you dearly love hurts, no more of that person from the day after hurts.
And if you go on asking me as to why the relationship of the tea leaves and tea is a one that society wouldn’t approve of is because I feel tea, which is consumed, is accepted and praised off but the tealeaves after giving color to the milk and making the tea, is thrown in the dustbin and looked down upon, it passes into the sewage and gets dirtier with other filthy wastes.

I pour the tea and carrying the Britania Marie biscuit pack, I sit on the bed, inside my room.

Work from Home logins done, follow-ups for work done and posted, Whatsapp messages checked, LinkedIn updates checked, Insta status views checked, 2–3 good morning messages sent, I get a call.

Mornings, I tell you, should begin very very well else the entire day goes for a toss, at least for me it does!

You should always choose your contact list for the first few minutes of your day since if they know you, they would know how much important and necessary it is for you to have a good day! I chose mine very carefully.

So, the call that I get is a daily regular one- has the good morning wishes, some good talks, some brief conversations, some pending discussions of the last night, some plans for the day, and there I light my 2nd cigarette.

The weather from morning itself urged me to write and listen to some good old songs and waste another day productively. I was humming over the call which obviously shows how much comfortable I am with the person on the other side, we talk about quite a few stuff and then while I was seeing somebody’s Whatsapp status, I heard something I was not prepared for.

“Irrfan Khan… Huh… “
“Yeah, what happened? “

I misinterpreted as ‘Imran Khan’ and I was a little taken aback as to why on earth are we discussing Imran Khan out of so many topics.

The person on the other end of the call is a very up-to-date person, having humongous knowledge about almost everything, smart and intellectual, so I chose to keep quiet, not ask many questions and listen to what knowledge he has to offer me on Imran Khan on a beautiful fresh green morning.

“…He was a nice actor”

It didn’t click.
I lifted my head from the phone screen.
I tried to understand. Or rather I tried to hear first.

“… We lost him… “
“Sorry? Whom? “
“Irrfan Khan”
“Bollywood actor, Irrfan Khan? “
“Yes, the last movie that I had watched was English Medium. Tremendously gifted actor. Only 54years… It’s sad to know that we’ll not get to see his work anymore”

I heard.
I understood what the person on the other end of the call wanted to say.
I couldn’t digest it.
I couldn’t be okay with what I just heard.

“What are you saying?“
“Yeah, check the news, Irrfan Khan is no more…”

I quickly and haphazardly closed all the background tabs and opened the Google Chrome tab typing Irrfan Khan's latest news.
And the first thought that came to my mind was ‘so early?’

I didn’t speak for a while. I kept silent. I fished through the entire internet for his stories, his films, his pictures, his dialogues.
I checked my WhatsApp to recheck what I just know is truth or a prank rumor?
I did see 3–4 Whatsapp statuses sprouting up with Irrfan Khan’s picture and a few of his dialogues.

I remembered the first time his cancer was in news a year back. I was in my hometown then.
I was trying hard to come to terms with the news and his death.

Death does affect, but celebrity deaths don’t generally. But it did, once back in 2013 when Rituparno Ghosh left behind an entire empire of Indian Cinema and today when Khan left us untimely.

Wait!
Am I sane?
Did I just read “Irrfan Khan dies at 54?“
Did he just die?
Is he not alive any longer?
Will Bollywood movie won’t get to see his work anymore?
Will his passionate eyes full of outbursts of emotions and pain no more appear on the screen?
Will there be no Irrfan Khan movies?

Will I have to just be content with the only movies he had made and tell my children how prolific and God-gifted actor our times had and Irrfan Khan is one of the very few?
Only a handful of good movies?

I suddenly get reminded of the song by Manna De
‘coffee house er adda ta aaj aar nei’
, particularly that line which goes
*aaj 7jon nei tobu table ta pore ache, 7ta peyala shudhu khali nei… *
(the group of 7 friends who visited the coffee house aren’t there anymore today but the 7 cups that they had had coffee from still remain.)

I don’t know why and how even relatable that was.

There was a storm inside me raging. There was a pain all of a sudden, exactly where I didn’t understand, whether physical, emotional, cynical, psychological, philosophical, literal, or what I know nothing. I just had that pain and I could sense that the pain was winning over soon, collapsing me bit by bit. My heart started aching and racing.

My mind stopped working for a while.

“Hello? You there? “
“Yeah… I’m fine…”
“Do you want to talk later? Should I hang up?”

“Call me when you feel okay. Watch Amazon Prime, some Black Widow series you were talking about last night.“
“Hmm”
“You fine?“
“How can he die? Why did he have to die? He had so much to offer to Indian Cinema. Did you watch Namesake with Tabu?“
“No, I haven’t. But I think you should do something else and stop thinking. This will lead to overthinking and you’ll go paranoid.”
“Hmm…”
“Fine, bye for now and take care”
“Hmm…“

And the call disconnects.

I switch back to what I was doing all the while- searching for his dialogues. I wanted to cry out loud and talk about his brilliant performance, his movies, his pauses, his timings, his deliverance, his input, and the voice and his own essence and everything about Khan.

On went the Bluetooth speaker with Irrfan Khan songs.
No news entertained.
No prayers or celebrity media bites or latest updates from any news channels.
Nothing.

I felt like somebody had suddenly hit me inside that how unprepared we are, failing to handle situations and accidents.
Like we were unprepared when there was a Uri Attack, like when Corona had hit and silenced the world and now Khan’s death.

I remember the poem by Emily Dickinson-
“Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me; the Carriage held but just ourselves, and Immortality…”

Death is the harsh truth that we deny and neglect every single day and death holds patience with us, letting us live, one more day!
One more day of our lives- one moment extra to make another memory.

I was just thinking in the afternoon about the deaths of Ghosh and Khan and realized that these 2 people have a very very strong character and personality to stir the crunches in a person’s system and hover over the loss that left us shocked and moment-paralyzed with their absence.

How can everything come to an end with one episode alone? How can death be so powerful? How can somebody stop existing from tomorrow just because death hit him? How can a person with a name be termed as a ‘dead body’ soon after his death? How can a child lose the shield over his head with death consuming his father? How can a woman tend to lose the colors and happiness of her life just with the death of her husband? How can parents turn childless just like that when death takes away the one they brought into being and life?

Doesn’t something more powerful than death exists?
Doesn’t God exist?
Doesn’t a supreme power maintain the equilibrium of the universe?
Can death not be the ultimate truth?

But, what are we crying for? What are we mourning for?
For the person who’s gone or for the hollow that got created because the person departed from our lives?
Doesn’t every person, every relationship, and everything come with an expiry date?

RIP Khan!
Your presence didn't bother or affect me much. But your ‘not being there’ actually has created a void and pain, so strong, so dear and so personal, that this scar would take time to heal.
Come back as YOU since you still have a lot to offer us.

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Varsha Karmakar

Varsha Karmakar

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“Perhaps I write for no one, Perhaps I write for the same person”- Margaret Atwood.