Death and the maidens

Two bits of news that make one wonder how alone people really are.

Hindi cinema's veteran actress Nadira died a lonely woman. She essayed mainly strong characters -- they call those vamps, don't they? -- and smoked and took the initiative with men on screen. For her time, she seemed way ahead.

She lived pretty much on her own terms. Or did she? She had an independent mind, but how often she spoke about her craving for a normal life.

Her brusque words may have hurt, but they were probably her only defence against a world that insinuates and sneaks up to you, and then tries to overwhelm you -- only to leave you stranded.

She did not complain. Even when she cried when prodded with questions in interviews, there was a silent strength in those tears. It takes courage to open yourself to such scrutiny.

She lived to be 74 despite all the daily battles she had to face, mainly with herself. That is bravery in my book.

Just when this news had sunk in, I read about TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa committing suicide. I have probably seen her face in commercials, but I cannot remember her in any serial.

She left a note saying that she could not take the pressures of life anymore. She lived alone in Mumbai and they say that she was always very exuberant on the sets; others in the building where she lived say she was a recluse.

Again, two different persona. She has blamed no one for her death. She was over four decades younger than Nadira -- she probably fought her battles too, like all of us do. And one day she picked up a dupatta and hung herself from the ceiling fan.

I know very little about her. Had she dragged on her life for 40 more years would she have found happiness, companionship, love, success? Would she then be called brave by the likes of me? Does anyone know how to measure uncertainty?

"ajiib daastaa.n hai ye

kahaa.N shuruu kahaa.N khatam
ye ma.nzile.n hai kaun sii
na voh samajh sake na ham

ye roshanii ke saath kyo.n
dhuaa.N uThaa chiraag se
ye Kvaab dekhatii huu.N mai.n
ke jag pa.Dii huu.N Kvaab se

kisiikaa pyaar leke tum
nayaa jahaa.n basaaoge y
e shaam jab bhii aaegii
tum hamako yaad aaoge

mubaarake.n tumhe.n ke tum
kisiike nuur ho gae
kisiike itane paas ho
ke sabase duur ho gae

ajiib daastaa.n hai ye
kahaa.N shuruu kahaa.N khatam"

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