What is it like to lose someone you love most dearly? What is it like to lose your best friend? What is it like to know your best friend has a terminal disease and he is going to die soon?
On October 18, it was the third death anniversary of Kartik Mukherjee, my only bachchu. I still feel he will walk through the door & give me a hug fm behind saying mama now you need good sex….that is the way Kartik was-candid & always had sex on his mind.
I still feel the phone will ring & he will ask “Mama what are you doing? You should be domesticated & should cook, what women like you are doing concentrating on a career?” I would call Kartik anti-women.
He was was amazing, a woman in form of a man! Girls & women of any age would share their darkest fears & secrets with him. He knew each one’s body rhythms! These women would tell him everything…plus Bachchu was a super-bitch.
Kartik would go to all our kitchens when he’d come over. All the women of the houses would simply love it, yes my aai too fell for it. Forget my aai, when my parents were away Kartik fulfilled his promise of staying for 8 days at my house before he died. He befriended my neighbours, relatives shopkeepers who regularly inquired about him.
Yes we had our fights- he couldn’t say NO to anyone. In the peak of his illness Kartik would move heaven & earth to go & serve milind khandekar who did not know of Kartik’s predicament & Kartik wldn’t allow me to tell him . Like this he would be at the beck & call of many, only few of us knew he was dying… But beyond a point I couldn’t despise Kartik. He was not happy Chetan & I had decided to tell Milind that he was going to die. Milind’s wife was upset & felt it unforgiving that for years Kartik knew them & he had not prepared them. I spoke to Milind & let me tell you NOT many have the maturity & a non-judgemental attitude to accept that our closest friend or relative has a terminal illness wc is quite maligned.
Also to handle the situation was not easy coz for all the chauvinism that men proudly display not many are able to tackle emotionally distressing situations. I do believe women are less judgemental, more accepting & can easily adapt to crisis & emergency situations.
Now, Kartik was wee-bit older than me, but was orphaned. He had me & Chetan as his best friends. He suspected we two would never marry (although Chetan went around proposing, wooing & was even engaged) neither to other partners nor to each other. So one day he declared me as his mama and Chetan as his pappa.
Imagine being called out ‘mamaaaa…’ loudly in the middle of the road? Yes, at that time I’d look around say no not me, out of sheer fun…coz there was NO way Kartik could me angry for more than 5 minutes….
Bachchu believed strongly that I had strong maternal instincts which I was curbing! Yes, I love kids but I’d vowed early in life that I did NOT want any kids. My body clocked never ticked, I’ve never felt time was running out or that I needed to be a mother! Bachchu was scandalised as he was truly chauvinistic, me & rest of my gender should succumb to male power, yes he believed in it.
Over a period of time Chetan & I began calling each other Mama & pappa. Kartik had really become an integral part of my life. We were by Chetan’s side when his father Dada passed away. Kartik was the ‘informer’ in our lives giving info on each other’s lovers. Chetan & me couldn’t escape his prying eyes! Kartik would also become possessive & really at some point of time I would face situations that were strange to me…
Bachchu himself was stubborn. He & his sister faced tumulus relationship. She admitted him in a hospital & bachchu called me to come & rescue him from there. I got him out despite polu’s severe criticism & taunts. I’m sure he would’ve died immediately. But he could also be insane. Kartik suffered from severe slip disc. We tried various alternate therapies. Eventually he got admitted to a nursing home, but he loved his mini-zoo-that had 6 dogs, equal number of cats, turtle whom we called Shiva for a decade when we learnt that he was actually Parvati & some more animals.
Kartik’s cat had run away, now Kartik that he is, escaped from the nursing home, made his sister tape his voice in a meow call & went around to find him!! He became stubborn by the day & wouldn’t listen to us for anything. We would meet regularly at his place discuss pros & cons, he was meticulous so all last minute tying up of details wc he finalised. He had the pep in life so called me over to see the jewellery he had made for Polu. In Marathi we call it haushi.
But bachchu liberated me. It was the closest I ever came to be being called mama & now I never want anyone else to call me. He made realise my feelings, emotions, yes made me more tender….
His death was expected but I’d been strong till the end, only for Chetan. One of us had to remain strong. It is not easy to see your best friend give up wanting to live. He just gave up! I was at his side when he turned his room dark, drew curtains not wanting sunshine to enter, told us to get him admit in hospital.
It was difficult to see bachchu in the last moments, Chetan, monty & I pumped oxygen manually so that his life could be extended. NO I didn’t want my bachchu to live like this. For the first time I prayed he would die peaceful & with least trouble. I had to rush to work but in the evening I received a call fm Polu my bachchu had died. I was relieved but yes I was shattered I won’t be seeing, hearing Kartik anymore.
I can’t explain how my life changed after that, little did I know the impact bachchu’s death would have. I didn’t hold myself back for feeling bad that he had died. For days I was sad, I had no control when I’d get teary eyed, miss him suddenly, no this was all new to me. For months I was affected. Thankfully Chetan & I spoke, met.
More so a film hit the theatres at that time wc was a catharsis for me. It was truly therapeutic. ‘My brother Nikhil,’ it helped all 3 of us to throw out all our pent up feelings. I can’t explain how it helped me to ease all the pain. I still get emotional about Kartik, I have no control when I will remember him, miss him & when suddenly I feel tears trickling down my cheeks or smile from ear-ear when I think of him…. I miss u bachchu.