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R.K.Laxman: Pride of the Family -- My Father

On the eve of RK Laxman's first death anniversary, his daughter-in-law Usha Srinivas Laxman shares some memories of the legendary cartoonist

At 6.30 pm on Monday, January 26th, 2015, friends and relatives had gathered in my Pune house hoping and praying for my father’s speedy recovery. Time was ticking away. Some were pacing up and down nervously. Then, at 6.50 pm my mobile buzzed. I was nervous to take the call as it was from the hospital. The doctor said that Laxman had breathed his last just now. I had dreaded this moment as I was left with the tough task of conveying this sad news to my mother and family. I called my husband Srinivas aside and told him dad’s heart had stopped beating. Everyone at home including mom sensed our silence and understood the stressful situation.

Within few minutes the world came to know of the sad demise of R.K.Laxman.

The loss of my father brought back early memories of my life with him.

RK Laxman and his wife Kamala Laxman seated with their grand-daughter Rimanika, their daughter-in-law Usha Srinivas Laxman and son Srinivas Laxman standing behind them.

In October 1981, I moved to Mumbai from Chennai after I got married. I was overwhelmed with the fact that I was going to be the closest family member of R.K.Laxman. I felt like I had woken up from a long slumber and walked straight into this exciting world. I had butterflies in my stomach with the thought constantly hitting me back and forth as to how I am going to adjust to a celebrity family. My friends and relatives admired my courage and wished and prayed for my well being and happiness. Mom and Dad made me feel at home that I was able to totally identify myself as completely theirs and there was no looking back.

Thus my journey with my famous father began. If only I had known that I would be given an opportunity to write about dad I would have maintained a diary of my memorable moments.

As a father, he was the best. The best and most precious treasure any person can receive in life is to have a loving and comforting father.

To me he is the Bharat Ratna. A gem which is unique and there can be no substitute to this on this universe ever. 

He was a celebrity of a different kind. He is not a man who gets carried away by power, money, fame, glamour, brand but he was branded for his simplicity, originality, intensity. He was a person so focused that he always earned his achievements. He never did work to please others but did it for his own satisfaction. His power of belief, dream to dare and make that dream happen for him made him a celebrity of a unique kind.

Yes, he was an uncommon man of the common man. He received genuine affection and blessings from people from all walks of life from all over the world. His intense feelings, sixth sense and intuitions gave him the power and strength to understand the minds of the people, be it politicians, professionals that he was able to anticipate the reactions and behaviors of these people. We would see the same in his cartoons the next day. Whenever I went on a holiday I spent hours shopping for him. I tried to get him very unusual things that he could never imagine. It was a joy to see him take so much pride in whatever I got him. I liked the way he would give life to the things I got him and also the way he treasured them.

Kamala Laxman with her husband R K Laxman on the latter's 90th birthday celebrations
Kamala Laxman with her husband R K Laxman on the latter's 90th birthday celebrations

I used to always argue and quarrel with him. He gave me that freedom and this brought me even closer to him. In order to maintain a pleasant atmosphere in the house he was always the first person to patch up. His anger was always momentary, but his love was deep and transparent.

I have always had this dream project in my mind to keep his work alive. I am grateful to the Government of Maharashtra for helping me to fulfill this dream of having a memorial of R.K.Laxman at the JJ School of Arts.

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