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I am not mourning Sridevi, but a Sridevi-fan. My college mate, project mate, last-bench mate. We never had those late night heart-to-hearts, we never got almost-caught for crazy stuff, but he was a friend.

He had Sridevi posters in his room – pre-nose-job posters, he would insist. Such fine distinction was important to the well-coiffured sophisticate that he was. He was a misfit amongst we ruffians, and he knew it.

His handwriting was perfect and his lab notes were works of art. One early morning, when the entire hostel was sleeping, I had just completed copying from his books, and was walking up to his room to return the books – the whole world was silent, the sky was still dark, there was a chill in the air – and I could hear a faint melody from a distant temple, faint but crystal clear, infusing something magical to that cold, dark morning. I stood in that corridor for a long while, trying to listen to that song, feeling wistful and sad for some unknown reason.

I keep thinking about that morning once in a way…

Yesterday, when I heard about Sridevi’s death, I was again in that corridor, trying to listen to that distant tune, mourning a friend who passed away too soon.

Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy was the theme song of B Hostel. Anil K Satyan introduced me to the song. Kent Classics Collection. I remember the cassette case with cigarette pack branding. I remember Binu singing the song in B224. I remember weekend trips with the song on loop.

Glenn Campbell passed away last year. Only then did I know about his struggle with dementia, his farewell tour, and movie based on it, I’ll Be Me. The movie is heart-wrenching – the gradual loss of memory, identity, dignity and life – and at times, exploitative. But his half-slurred last studio song hits you in the guts – ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’.

Addressed to his wife, the song starts with “I’m still here, but I’m gone” and ends with…

I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains
I’m not gonna miss you

My father passed away last year, after a six-year battle with dementia.

I didn’t cry when my wife broke the news to me. I had done my crying six years ago when a wrong medication had reduced Pappa to a vegetable. I was actually relieved – finally, Pappa is free.

On the ambulance ride to Kochi for the funeral, trying to stay awake, trying to ensure the driver stayed awake, I had my songs on shuffle…and somewhere near Salem, when a sudden cloudburst reduced visibility to a few metres, ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ started playing.

And everything that I had tried to forget surged back and I dissolved into the rain.


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February 2018