Just toward the end of February this year, the world was astounded with the news of the death of Sridevi – a prominent Bollywood actress and superstar. Even worse was the news that she died in Dubai, at a hotel leaving behind a very distraught husband – a renowned producer and director. Her two daughters were supposedly not around. The coroner confirmed the death due to accidental drowning, and after almost a week of thorough investigation, the crime branch found no foul play involved, and arranged for the repatriation of the body to Mumbai, where a lavish funeral was arranged for her final journey.
What followed was a series of speculations surrounding the accidental death – how can one drown in a bath tub? The story we all were told was that she was getting ready for a dinner date, after a surprise encounter with her husband that evening, who flew all the way from Mumbai to spend that special evening with her. If you asked me out, I would quickly shower and get dressed than waste time in a tub. Nevertheless, it was also reported that there were no signs of struggle – no water spilt on either side of the bath, no strangulation marks, no suggestive footprints nor fingerprints. She went away peacefully and blissfully. My mom echoed the same question to me at the time, and I too recalled, that during my honeymoon at Mauritius, our room had a similar shiny marble jacuzzi, and being my first experience, I overfilled the tub. Just as I tried to sit in the rather large and ornate trough filled to the brim, my heels slipped and I found myself too underwater in seconds, unable to push myself to the surface due to the rounded edge work. Luckily my husband was around and came to my quick rescue. So while I do not wish to speculate around Sridevi’s death, knowing it’s possibility all too well, I definitely did find the suddenness of the event and the bliss with which she went, too humorous.
Meanwhile in Pune, my grandmother was enjoying the various news channels rife with all sorts of insinuations against Boney Kapoor, aspersing him with the fact that he stood to remain the sole benefactor to her insurance policy worth more than half a million dollars. That night she ate a bowl full of cold, refrigerated grapes, and it was still not the end of the flu season. The cough got worse and in a couple of days, she was admitted for pneumonia, with no response to any of the medication that had been administered. Within a week, she too died of multiple organ failure, when a relative decided to take her off the ventilator. I was shocked, not because she died, but because she died of a curable ailment like pneumonia, which in my opinion, should not have claimed her life so quickly. I could not make sense of it at all and questioned the doctors, who had till the end assured me that she would go home. Here again no signs of struggle, no questions, no suggestive foul play, just another blissful death. Our family doctor remarked that she had lived her lifetime anyway. So what if she was just 82? She was healthy enough with no terminal illness to live out another decade. To me, it was all too funny, again.
After the funeral, when everybody had acquiesced to the fact that it was for the best, her daughter (my aunt) found an envelope at the bottom of her closet that had a considerable collection of savings put aside. The writing on the envelope read “For a nice holiday”.