Farokh Engineer's tribute to Shashi Kapoor: My 'jigri dost' from Don Bosco school
Former India wicketkeeper-batsman remembers his school buddy
Shashi and I go back a long way - as early as our schooling at Don Bosco, Matunga. I'm sad because Shashi was like a brother to me. The only time I've felt so gutted over losing a friend was when Budhi Kunderan [former India wicketkeeper-batsman] passed away in 2006 and on both occasions, mid-day delivered the sad news to me. Shashi and I sat on the same class bench at Bosco's. We had our share of failures in school because he was into his acting career and cricket kept me busy. I remember we deciding to buck up by preparing for our examinations together. We sucked at it because our efforts started and ended in tomfoolery.
We pursued our respective careers after school, but we met often. He watched a few of my games and I attended some Shashi Kapoor film premiers. We seldom lost an opportunity to spend time together. I don't remember the year, but I was returning home once from a Test match in Kanpur. Since there was no direct flight to Bombay, there was a stopover in Delhi. On reaching the lounge, I met Shashi who was on his way to Srinagar for a film shooting. In a matter of minutes, a Delhi-Srinagar boarding pass was in my hands and we spent the next few days in beautiful Kashmir. I enjoyed the break before the Test series resumed, but Shashi worked through those few days.
I was a regular visitor to the Kapoor home in Juhu and his workers always knew the type of rotis I liked. He often asked me whether I was happy after settling down in the United Kingdom and each time, I used to be positively emphatic in my response. His last question was always, "When are you coming next?" Often, I used to take a few friends along and Shashi never had a problem with that. "Bring whoever you want. Your friends are my friends," he'd remark.
It was heartbreaking to see my childhood friend in a wheelchair. I could see him deteriorating and fading away. Your death has caused me great sadness, but has revived a lot of memories. I will remember you as a smiling gentleman who dealt with all your problems with bravado. Rest in peace, brother.
As told to Clayton Murzello