“Our memories are the only paradise from which we can never be expelled,” wrote German novelist John Paul Richter.
It is in this paradise filled with memories that Parvathamma Rajkumar has spent the last four years since the passing on of her husband, Rajkumar, the undisputed star of the Kannada film industry for five rich decades.
It is these memories of her husband of 53 years that have helped her tide through the “difficult” four years since the thespian’s sudden death on April 12, 2006, at the age of 75, due to a cardiac arrest, she says.
“I just don’t know how the time has passed in the last four years. The pain is there, it hasn’t reduced. But we have to continue working, don’t we? He’s in my thoughts all the time, from morning till night,” she tells DNA.
Parvathamma feels his constant presence by her side, which, she says, gives her the strength to carry on. “Rajkumar is still here. There is no question of forgetting him. I am alive today because I believe he is with me,” she says.
Being close relatives (Rajkumar was her maternal uncle’s son), she had seen him even as a kid. But the first time she truly took notice of him was on June 25, 1953, when she stood before him as his 14-year-old bride in the temple town of Nanjangud.
“I don’t remember much about the wedding except that almost everyone from my husband’s side was in tears. That was because their head of the family (Rajkumar’s father) had passed away and was not there to witness the eldest son’s wedding.
When we exchanged garlands and he tied the knot, he was crying. I saw him cry and started to cry myself (smiles). I was 14, young and naive. It’s different these days. Fourteen-year-olds are smart,” she says.
The 53 years with him have loaded her with memories of their time together, and the way Rajkumar, revered with the demi-god status by millions of Kannadigas around the globe, lived his life.
Disciplined and a complete family man is how she describes him.
“If he has to leave home at 8 am, he would leave home exactly at 8 am, not at 8.01 am. He loved spending time with kids at home because he rarely got to spend time with the family otherwise. Those were special moments. Sometimes, we used to go out to restaurants, too,” her eyes light up as she speaks.
And, of course, his likes and dislikes. Rajkumar was known to love non-vegetarian food. “He used to relish the mutton dishes I used to prepare for him,” she says. His other favourites were kosambari, soppina palya, and uppa saaru (salad, curry made of greens, and rasam).
As much as he was her real life hero, she loved him as much in reel life, she says. “I would like to remember him in his roles of Rama, Krishna, Arjuna, Mayura, Kanakadasa and other mythological roles. I wish Puneet or Shivanna would act in similar mythological roles. But they say that they don’t have the stature or the style that Appaji had,” she says.
His enthusiasm, his wisdom and his principles will always be with her, she says. “They say that behind every successful man there is a woman. If I am behind his success, even that is because of him alone,” she says.
Has she really moved on? “Sometimes I feel he’s not around, but then I immediately tell myself that he is around, and the world seems to be a much better place to live in,” she replies.