She was poetry in white

 She was poetry in white

A tribute to Krishna Raj Kapoor who passed away in Mumbai on October 1

 Anshu Khanna

My mother-in-law Nirmal Khanna was a Kapoor. The poor Kapoor, as in the surname. This was a family joke. She grew up in Lahore but came with the family to Mumbai post-Partition. She was Prithviraj Kapoor’s cousin and also Krishna’s cousin. Her mother, our nani and Prithviraj’s mother were real sister. And Krishna’s father and nani real brother-sister. Odd it is but a fact that the lady in white was technically her husband’s aunt! Her father was the police commissioner of Rewa estate who moved to Jabalpur later.

I met Krishna Raj Kapoor only thrice. And each time her humility, sense of humour and kind-heartedness is what drew me towards her besides her vibrant face that shone aka porcelain. It was actually my husband’s aunt Swarn Khanna who was her soul sister. Spent all her holidays with her, shopped together, played cards together, cruised together. And it was at Swarn aunty’s home that I met her first. Aunty had lost her husband and Krishna aunty spent two full days mourning with her. And I was the official kitchen. Sitting at home, I would send the grand ladies pakwans for lunch… chana kulcha, aloo puri. And each day with the utensils would come back a with a loving note, Krishna aunty’s love and Rs 500. When I met her, she complimented me on my cooking skills. She was, that day, dressed in a floral salwar kameez and not her characteristic white. A bit disappointing it was.

Next time we met was when we went to Mumbai and went over to Prithvi cottage. There she was poetry in white. Her famous red lipstick, coiffured hair in place. She sat down. There was younger daughter Reema visiting, son Randhir and her pal Shuklaji (Jubilee king Rajendra Kumar’s wife) and daughter with us in the Kapoor living room. She sat there reminiscing her happy past in Jabalpur, her trips to visit her cousins in Mumbai, Raj Kapoor, the golden era, her husband’s obsession with his art form!!! It was the most invigorating conversation but two lines from her that I will never forget: “If we were given a chance to act, we would have out sizzled all the girls of today!!!” And, “If I stop playing cards, my mind will stop.” We belong to a generation of Punjabis whose mothers played cards, attended kitty parties, baked cakes, hosted lavish dinners, wore floral chiffons, rolled their hair in a bun… And Krishna aunty was an icon of that.

Last time I met her was a hurried one. She was on her way to play cards with Sonam’s (Kapoor) dadi who was part of her family but stopped by to bless our godson Diyan, grandchild of the famous Punjabi actor Ravinder Kapoor who was my husband’s mamu and the dote of our life. She walked in, handed an envelope with Krishna dadi written across it, smiled and blessed all of us…..

When I read that she played cards even on her last day with her coterie, I think here lived a blessed soul who flew away calmly and elegantly with a little pain but lots of love tucked away in her heart. God bless her soul.

Anshu Khanna is a communication expert, writer and founder of Goodword Media Services (P) Ltd


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