What a heart-wrenching picture this is. Of Saira Banu in her grief. Unmindful of the mourners who came to pay their last respects to Dilip Kumar and then stayed on to take mobile photos, and the intrusive paparazzi, she showed how true love can only lead to a broken heart when one of the partners passes away. There isn’t a more hopeless moment than this. When it’s time to say the last goodbye. The sense of loss is so final, so overwhelming, that it is the start of a physical ache in your heart for the rest of your life.
This is that moment in Saira Banu’s life. When the yesteryear actress, so elegant and so dignified in her grief, knows that they have come to take her husband of 55 years away. That this is the last time she will see him. Never mind that he was no longer the legendary actor that other Bollywood greats bowed in respect to. The man she fell in love with when she was 12 and he was 34. That his captivating smile, his twinkling eye, and his charming wit all but deserted him when with old age came ill health. That he lived in a vegetative state at 98. He was her husband.
This is also that moment when she does not want to let go. A lifetime of memories flashing before her teary eyes. She was still struggling to come to terms with his death. The final parting is heartbreak like nothing else. And she wants to prolong the moment by crying over him, kissing his face, hugging him and telling him how much she loved him. Not that he needed to be told.
The tenderness with which she cared for him in his frail, ailing years could only mean that. But still, more than the funeral prayers of peace and comfort, her words of love were perhaps the last thing he heard and took away.