The exhilaration of celebrating Vishu with the customary Kani, Kainettam, asirvadams, kodi (new clothes) and dozens of international phone calls came to a screeching halt when I heard the news of the tragic demise of Nandana, daughter of popular Indian singer, KS Chitra.
As I hung up the phone call from my little sister in New Jersey who broke the news to me, I felt myself sucked into a spiraling vortex of helplessness, and was sunk deep into the pith of a shocking abyss.
Chitra is the "nilavilakku" of a Malayali family, quoted Madhu Balakrishnan, another great singer during a show honoring Chitra's 30 years of music a month ago. Vivid mental imagery of that "nilavilakku" toppled over on a Vishu morning, turned the day of mirth to one of immense mourning.
I looked around for solace...I was all alone at home, and frantically tried to call up a few close friends to grieve...the pain of my own personal losses of my dear Daddy and grandparents overwhelmed me once again, sending chills all over.
Chitra (chechi) is a household name and she has been warmly welcomed into every music loving South Indian's living room and heart through the 1000s of songs that she has sung with impeccable perfection. Her face always brims with a genuine smile, uncanny humility, guruthwam par excellence and sans any iota of starry airs. As a judge for numerous music reality shows, she displayed compassion, encouragement and inspiration to not only the participants, but the viewers alike. She beamed whenever she spoke about her daughter and for a snap-second seemed to have a "perfect" life-till now.....I feel empty when I say that we can pray to God to give her strength...no words of consolation will mitigate such an irreparable loss, but empathy is all that we can afford to give now.
I hope and pray the media and public will let her family grieve in private and not stoop to sensationalize the tragedy for their own ratings' sake. I hope folks do not use this as a case to debate the challenges of a talented young lady pursuing a career, or dissect the fact that Nandana was child with special needs.
Time alone will perhaps one day heal the scars of this scathing wound and then there is one solace for the rest of us...we could grieve for Chitra's loss by listening to her....
Om Tat Sat.