Lalita would have been fifty-one today. On her birthday last year I visited her at her home for the first time. I'd posted a bunch of corny limericks for her on my blog, and had taken over Kalpana Swaminathan's Page 3 Murders as a present, mainly because it was 'a Lalli mystery' that I'd read earlier and enjoyed, and the Lalli in the book was just about as smart as our Lali.
Neha's parrot arrived while I was there, a lovely mounted photograph. Some other friends of hers were already there, others dropped in. Little did we know then that it was her last birthday that we were celebrating.
Lali became a part of my life in many ways. I cannot look at my IFB clothes dryer without remembering her. She had recommended it on a rainy day when I was cribbing about the laundry never drying. After an excellent cup of tea at her place, I've even adopted her brand of tea.
I was delighted to discover that Kolkata had an Eloor Library, after reading this post of hers. (I'd been a member of Eloor when I was in Kochi). Lalita had been a book buyer for them at one time, and the staff all knew her, as did some of the staff at Crossword, the venue of our first meeting.
We went to Eloor together a couple of times after she fell ill. If I ever went alone the librarians would ask me for news of her.
Two days ago I went to Eloor after a really long time, and told them that she was no more. There was no one else who could have informed them of her death. I don't know if the chaps in Crossword know.
Lalita was one of those special people who touched so many lives with her own brand of magic.
The 13th of September will always be special to me because it is your birthday.
Be at peace, Lali, wherever you are.