17 May, 2007

Shaktiben, what's happening tonight?

by Bani Abidi

This January when I came to Delhi for Sarnath's book launch, Shakti and I met for coffee one day in DefCol. She and I sat in a little park in the market and spoke about the state of English writing in India, about Bracket Books, about the author from the North East whom she was going to publish, and moved on to a long conversation about North East politics and then, just as easily, we switched to art and what I was working on. Conversation is rarely as engaged, as easy, and as interesting as it was with her. I remember shouting out to her while Sarnath was on the phone with her later that evening, that I had loved talking to her. She was one of the main people I would think of, when, in the following months, I would tell my friends in Lahore that Delhi is socially a fabulous place. I was really looking forward to having her be part of my life in Delhi. I remember her running up to me at Sarnath's book launch and stating that she had instantly developed a crush on my husband with his new haircut! She was such a mad and fun person, so charming...and so beautiful.

I think of her in her striped tights, short sexy skirts, and her black coat. In her spiffy winter outfits...this petite, gorgeous woman with the most striking personality...that's what I thought when I first met her last December. Samit posted on his blog a photo from his birthday and I can't stop thinking of that evening. We hung around freezing, huddled, eating fish tikkas, and finally had to drag Sarnath away from his obsessive socializing to get to Samit's in time. It was really heartening to be able to connect so quickly with a close friend of Sarnath's, who had no problem in joining me in taking the mickey out of him. She and he were such party buddies...he would say, "Let me call Shaktiben and find out what's happening tonight".

Her death has been an awful loss for everyone.

May her memory and her spirit live long and continue to touch the lives of even those who were not fortunate enough to have known her.

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