It has been a year since the versatile actor Irrfan Khan passed away. On Irrfan’s first death anniversary, wife Sutapa Sikdar and their son Babil penned emotional and deeply philosophical notes, remembering the artist and the way he chose to lead his life.
Babil remembered how the actor was in the face of immense pain and odds in his last two years. He wrote, “Chemo burns you from the inside, so to find joy in the simple things, like building your own table to write your own journals. There is a purity, I have not yet discovered. There is a legacy that has already been concluded by my Baba himself. A full stop. Nobody can ever replace him. Nobody will ever be able to. To the greatest best friend, companion, brother, father, I ever had and ever will have. I love you so much, for the rest of this chaos we are choosing to call life. I miss you, more than all that shah-Jahan/mumtaz stuff; I would have built a space monument that could have taken us to the furthest parts of a blackhole singularity you were always intrigued by, but I would have been there with you Baba, and we could have gone together, hand in hand. (Exploring the last mysteries).” He shared it with a photo of Irrfan smiling as he worked on the chair.
Sharing how Irrfan’s last moments were spent in the hospital before he passed away, Sutapa shared that she and her friend present with Irrfan sang his favourite songs instead of prayers and chants. Sutapa wrote, “People living deeply have no fear of death”… Anaïs Nin. Your favourite poet Irrfan. Last year tonight me and my friends sang songs for you,all your favorite songs. The nurses were looking at us strangely as they were used to religious chants in critical times but I had overdone that for you Irrfan morning, evening and night for two years and since they told me it was time I wanted you to go with memories you loved …so we sang songs….next day you left for the next station I hope you knew where to get down without me… 363 days eight thousand seven hundred and twelve hours..when each second is counted.”
She also shared how Irrfan passed away at a particular time, calling it his love for the mystical. She wrote, “How exactly does one swim this huge ocean of time. The clock had stopped. At 11.11 on 29th April for me. Irrfan you had a keen interest in mystery of numbers . .and funny you had three 11’s on your final day . some say actually many say this is a very mystical number 11/11/11.”
“How does one walk ahead the pandemic just adds to the anxiety, fear and pain. The days went by with umpteen responsibilities some extremely new ones like signature galore for changing of name.”
Sutapa also spoke about her difficulty in changing her name. “My fingers kept stopping on that how could I just take his name away and make it Sutapa, I was unable to sign took a day off and the name game played on my mind. Like a film in a projector.”
Sutapa also shared a memory from their days in National School of Drama (NSD), where they first met and fell in love. She notes, “I remember sitting outside NSD late evening… beautiful girls from kathak kendra floating out… they were all very well dressed up unlike us we were always in our blue trackpants and sky blue t-shirt… Both boys and girls wore the same… and you mispronounced my name and I tried to correct and rubbed it in as usual my permanent thing that north Indians are so stupid and they only can pronounce Sunny, Vicky, Rahul type names and proceed to kake ki dukaan in gol chakkar to have ek bata do chai… its been a long journey of correcting each other spanning a life time. Fighting, arguing laughing, evolving together. You were the loner in a crowd. And now a whole crowd has followed you up there… by the way OM from the tea stall in the nukkad went some years back has he made a chai ka stall up there? are you having ek bata do chai there. And, are drinking water from the running streams?”
“All of you stay in peace remember us that we loved you, all of you. And remember all of you is missed by some one or the other… all your families grieve… may you all rest in peace! I hope there is enough space, I hope some of you will forgive us for not been able to give a respectable cremation,” Sutapa concluded.
Irrfan Khan’s health had been on the decline ever since he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer in 2018. He had been travelling to London frequently for treatment. He passed away on April 29 in Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, after a long battle with the disease.