I would like to paint the way a bird sings.
— Claude Monet


A flashback

On a fund-raising spree

I contacted Asif Basra on WhatsApp

In my bulldozer style,

I asked “Oyeee how are you …. Please can you do a short video for Samaritan Mumbai’s emotional support helpline

Then I did my usual pitch: Blah blah blah (he must have downed the shutters long ago)

There was silence

I am not in a good space, he said

I paused

I called him, immediately

Tring tring tring

What happened

I cannot explain


Just back


I am in quarantine


And this … Covid thing


Taking care of … my parents


Right now, I am not in that frame of mind


I hope you … er … understand …

Sure, Yaar

Er … The thing is …No pressure


Do contact Samaritans Mumbai whenever  you feel like talking … and sharing


We are anonymous, confidential and non judgemental 


Bhai, tera number bhi nahi dikhega


Naam nahi poochengey … Jo bolna hai bol de


And you know I am there just a call away

He laughed

What, I said


Aha, I said

Haan bhai haan

(He called me that, haan bhai haan)

Jhandewallii!!! Haan baba

haan zaroor

Pakka haan pakka

Take care yaar

Then he disconnected

And then I said adieu

That was my final audio and WhatsApp guftagu with Asif

We can be knowledgeable with another man’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with another man’s wisdom. 
— Michel de Montaigne


Then the news of his demise

trickled in

It was like a crumbling of a

mountain inside me 

As if a volcano erupted

Then silence

We have known each other

for years during his theatre days

Of late we met less

When we did, we were a

house on fire

We had long conversations

which never ended

Lots of drama

Lots of nautanki

Lot of theatrewallah’s high art




But above all, political and ideological discussions

Zindabad vs Murdabad

In philosophy, if you think the answer is obvious, you haven’t understood the question. 
— Keith Frankish


News of his suicide 

I felt like a zombie

I disconnected from all social media

I needed to store and remember the good memories

Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
— Vesna Zivkovic



And then when I started my

social media account 

A barrage of comments

And mostly WHY ….

He was always smiling

As someone said, The Boy

Who Never Stopped Smiling

No way, it can’t be true

Conspiracy theories erupt again

Finger pointing


In the pandora’s box which

Stephen Fry calls social media

If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.
— Seamus Heaney


He was struggling

He was going through depression

A person can smile and be sad

Can you accept it?

The social media rants

 No No….

He cannot do this to the love

of his life

To his family

To his innocent parents

No No No

Not possible

People, do you see it’s all

about you

It is not about him

You feel bad, about yourself

How come, if you were a close friend, how  could you

not see

How come as a fan, you see

a coward who could not take

up the life challenges



Instead you say he let YOU


You felt he did wrong

Some people have one great dream in life which they fail to fulfill.
Others have no dream at all and fail to fulfill even that.
— Fernando Pessoa


For once

Can we just see his pain

He ended his pain

I am sure he must have tried

But that sensation of floating …

Beyond boundaries

Beyond logic

Beyond this planet which is

three quarter dead

If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. 
— Jamie Tworkowski


He took a call

To end his pain…

Can we respect his decision?

कोई कश्ती में तनहा जा रहा है, किसी के साथ दरिया जा रहा है…
— मोहसिन ज़ैदी

Kamayani Bali- Mahabal