Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remembering Lalita

Lalita Mukherjea of Lalita Larking fame passed away on Tuesday afternoon.
She was the first blog friend I made, and it was wonderful knowing her. Lali knew so much about so many things: books, (she was an avid fan of Pratchett's Discworld, among so many other authors of so many genres), music, poetry, mythology, trees, birds, grammar, lyrics of Mohammed Rafi songs, some of which she translated into exquisite English renditions, and so much more.
Her love affair with cryptic crossword puzzles was the stuff of legend.
Although you could feel completely humbled in the face of her erudition, Lali was always most self-effacing. Her announcement of her illness on her blog was as gently humorous as anything else she'd written.
Words were a passion, and she used them with incredible expertise.
She even cooked with flair, mastery and precision- her famous fried potatoes were cut into exact 1cm cubes.

One of her earliest posts is a wonderful analysis of how relative our perceptions of a single event can be, written in her inimitable style, dealing with her son, a pencil sharpener and, of course, a cryptic crossword puzzle clue as the leitmotif of the post.

Going through each of her posts is a pleasure. Knowing that there will be no more wit and wisdom from Lali is sad indeed.

I see Lalita sitting in ‘her’ chair in her apartment overlooking the lake, scintillating conversation accompanied by the cacophony of nesting birds at sunset,enjoying a cup of excellent Darjeeling tea. The tears well up again. Farewell, my friend.

30 comments:

Usha said...

I have read everyone of her posts and was too much in awe of her to leave a comment. Every one of her posts is crafted to perfection.
I was too stupid to grasp the seriousness of her illness which she spoke of so light heartedly. Even the reference to the painted leaf did not sink in.
Only recently when she wrote about severe back pain and inability to lie down or swallow, I had a doubt and now she is gone.
I have been in a state of shock ever since praveen informed me and I can quite imagine the effect on you who knew her quite well. I am so sorry dipali. This is an irreparable loss of one so young and so brilliant.
Hugs.

dipali said...

@usha: Yes, it is so hard to accept that she is no more. I'm just so glad that I had the privilege of knowing her, however briefly.

Mampi said...

I never knew who she was, I never went to her blog, It is only today that I did from this post of yours. Ironically her post that opened was from July 1, titled , BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Life is so strange.
Though she is gone, I thank you for introducing us to her through a befitting obituary. I am sure she will always live through her words.
May her soul rest in peace.

eve's lungs said...

Oh Dipali - I did so lurk on her blog but like Usha,was in complete awe of her erudition to comment. But I was overwhelmed with sadness when I got to know from JAP that she had passed away . I never imagined it was so bad . Although there is no face to the name I shall miss her gentle evocative writing and all the reference I have to her are the few conversations I have had with Rimi and you . I can only say how sorry I am . Hugs :)

OrangeJammies said...

oh dear! this is distressing. Although I didn't know her or read her, the mere thought of one of us passing on is a very unpleasant one. God bless her soul, and thank you, Dipali, for bringing her to us even posthumously. I can see that she was quite a person.

Lekhni said...

In one of her last posts, she had talked about the smells of food. I remember having an exchange of comments and mentioning roasted potatoes. I didn't understand her response then. It did not seem like mere jest. But now I realize that she was ill even then, and you mentioned her famous fried potatoes, I suddenly understood her comment :(

deziree said...

Dipali, if I may intrude, do you know what cancer t was? Was it oesophageal? I thought it was carcinoma in situ?

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

It is only today, through your touching tribute, that I have come to know her. I will be reading her blog with sadness and disbelief that she is no more!
I can feel your pain and I am so, so sorry for your loss.
May her soul find peace!

Mystic Margarita said...

I came to know about her from your touching post today. I can feel your pain at the loss of a wonderful friend and a person. I'm so sorry for your loss, Dipali May God give her family members and friends the strength to cope with this tragedy.

Parul said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Dipali. I did not know her but will read her blog now, to get to know the person she was.

dipali said...

@Everyone: Thank you, friends. Do read her posts- Lalita was unique and just marvellous to read!
@deziree: yes, it was oesophageal carcinoma, and was inoperable. When it was diagnosed she was in no condition for chemotherapy and/or radiation.

phoenixritu said...

I did not know her, but as Parul says, I will visit her blog and get to know her. Sad

Tania said...

Dipali
My condolences.I have been reading her since yesterday and she was wonderful and witty.
Tania

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dipali.
this is Tivi her younger sister. I was so glad of her Blog friends who kept her company alongwith her Crosswords & books.

Suki said...

Don't know what to say, Dips. Beautifully written post about a brilliant blogger - I wish I knew her as a person.
RIP, Lalita.

Sue said...

I'm sorry she went in so much pain.

suku said...

Dipali:

So sorry for your loss. I only found her through this post of yours. And I must say, I am blown away by her writing. I have already gone back to it several times today, reading her archives and each one of her post is marvellously written. A great loss, no doubt.
Your tribute to her is beautiful.

mayG said...

Oh Dipali, *hugs* this must be so tough on you..
I'm going through her blog, numb at the thought that she is no more.. its almost like she is speaking to us readers out there..sigh..

This whole blogosphere is a strange place, you meet new people only to live every precious blog-worthy moment of their lives with them and become closer than friends and even family at times.. I really can't imagine what a massive loss it would be to lose a blogging friend..

rest in peace lalita, you will be missed.

?! said...

Thank you. As you can guess, she meant a lot to me. I'm happy that somebody who knew her read that piece.

Raj said...

Lalita was ( past tense already?) one of the few bloggers I met in person. She was in Chennai on a holiday and made it a point to get in touch with the bloggers here. I and my daughter met her one evening and had dinner together. She blogged about it and how she enjoyed the 'rasam'.

Another time, she mailed me a request to pick up a calendar from somewhere. Apparently she had been using the same one ( well, not the same one, but a different one each year, from the same publisher) for many years and she was kind of used to having it in her kitchen. I managed to trace it in some shop here and had it couriered to her. “My hero!” she wrote back and thanked me.

Her intolerance for spelling errors manifested itself every now and then. Once she chided me for misspelling the word, “minuscule”. When I argued that it was indeed the correct spelling, she apologised profusely and even blogged about the incident. “Raj, please, please don’t forget to close quotations with inverted commas”, she wrote to me, another time.

Courteous to a fault, she would check with me if it was ok to link to my blog, in any of her posts that she was working on.

A lively person, interested in a wide range of subjects. Music, literature ( English, Tamil, Telugu…) cooking, crossword (of course)….. Glad that I met her, even if only once.

Neera said...

I am so sorry for your loss Dipali. She does sound like a great person. May her soul rest in peace.

OrangeJammies said...

Hi, just popping in to check: are you okay? Leaving you with a bear hug.

Hip Grandma said...

how could such a creative writer be bugged by the ultimate 'c' word? life is too unfair.I read her post on relative perception and it was superb.we have indeed lost an important and valued blogger.

Banno said...

I visited Lalita's blog through yours. Only recently. You were indeed blessed to know her. Take care.

the mad momma said...

I used to lurk around there all the time. wish i had delurked more often than i did. by the way - something for you at my blog.

dipali said...

@old friends and new: Thank you all for your kind words. Reading her blog is the best way we can remember this very special person. I can quite imagine her chuckling at all this posthumous traffic!
@OJ:Thanks for this second visit.I suppose I'm alright, I just have to learn to live with this loss.
@tivi: Lali was lucky to have such wonderful sisters who were there for her when she needed them. I can only imagine your pain and sense of loss, Tivi. Take care.
@raj: Lali introduced me to your often hilarious blog, Raj. Our dear grammar Nazi was delighted to meet you in Chennai. She was( yes, I hate using the past tense here)so special,we are truly blessed to have known her.

dipali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~nm said...

Oh no!!! This is so sad!! Just now when I rad your blog budday post I was dreading it was her and am so sad to hear that it indeed was her.

I still can't believe this!!

dipali said...

@~nm:Yes, it is really sad. I have so many memories of the past year and a half, so many constant reminders. I'm still so glad that I was able to spend some time with such an amazing person.

Indian Home Maker said...

My condolences.