Prabhu Kunj on Peddar Road in South Mumbai wears a deserted look on September 28. If its legendary resident Lata Mangeshkar had lived she would be 93 years old today.
Recalls Lataji’s youngest sister Usha Mangeshkar , “Our home used to be a beehive of activity on Didi’s birthday every year. People would come from afar to just stand below our home , expressing their good wishes for her. Her admirers never demanded to see her. They would just stand respectfully outside our home. I don’t think anyone else in this country commands the same love respect and admiration.”
This is the first birthday without Lataji and her family is inconsolable in their grief.
Says Usha, “We knew we would miss her. But we never knew it would be so hard. The home seems to have gone quiet and still. Not that she spoke much. But just her presence gave us strength and confidence. Today I am all alone in the house. My sister Meena has come home so I feel a bit better. Otherwise Didi’s birthday this year is a reminder of our loss.”
On a happier note, a Chowk named after Lataji is being inaugurated in Ayodhya and the Bharat Ratna Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar School is being opened at Mumbai University’s Kalina Campus on the occasion of Lataji’s birthday.
Says her proud sister Usha, “My nephew Adinath (Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s son) has gone to Ayodhya . I will be attending the opening ceremony for the school although I have had knee surgery and cannot walk. But an honour such as this for Didi is an honour for our entire family. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Getting wistful about her sister Usha says, “There will never be another Lata Mangeshkar.”