Too many memories for a lifetime
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Few things make her cry, said Amala Shankar. But when she heard the news of her brother-in-law Pandit Ravi Shankar's death, the tears wouldn't stop.
Married to Ravi Shankar's elder brother Uday and a dancer of international repute herself, Amala said she heard of the death from Tanusree, wife of her adopted son, who lives in Jamshedpur.
"All my life and especially after marriage, I had forgotten what grief was. I was happy all the time and cried only when I was overjoyed. The last time I had wept was about nine years ago when my son passed away. When I heard that Robu (as she used to call Ravi Shankar) was no more, I felt a lump in my throat and broke into tears," said the 94-year-old.
Saying that her memories of him were too many for a lifetime, Amala recalled that they first met when she was a child. "I met Robu in Paris when I was 11½ years old and he was a year younger to me. I still remember vividly he was wearing a pyjama and a kurta and the loose pyjama kept slipping off his waist and he was struggling to pull it back into place."
From a joint family, she immediately connected with Ravi Shankar, finding a brother and friend in him. They went around like the fabled Siamese twins, she says, the bond growing over the years. "I still remember as kids, he used to steal cherries from the kitchen and we would feast on those and would often suffer from diarrhoea," she said, wiping her tears.
The last time Amala met Ravi Shankar was about a year ago when he visited the city. "He had visited Kolkata about a couple of years ago but I couldn't meet him," she said, adding that she missed seeing him with the beard that he had grown recently.