The day was magical. Every class in school seemed like a burden. Every second was passing like a minute and every minute like an hour. Such was the impact of Yash Chopra's films on me that the very thought of seeing him in person and meeting him was creating a rainbow of dreams in my mind.
Around 11 years ago, Yashji was scheduled to visit Ludhiana for the marriage of his business partner Sanjiv Puri's niece. I danced in joy when my family told me that we would be attending the 'lucky' wedding. Preparations for my special day began right from the morning. While leaving for school, I 'ordered' my mother to get my party frock crisply ironed and ready for the evening.
I took Rs 100 from my father to buy a lemon-coloured autograph book I had seen in a stationery shop next to my school. I proudly announced in class that I was meeting 'the Yash Chopra' tonight. Most of my pals didn't believe me, obviously.
And the evening finally arrived. Dressed in my favourite black frock, with the autograph book in my hand, I entered the wedding hall. The gathering was sparse, just perfect to see the legend for as long as you wished. Unwilling to accompany my family on stage to wish the couple, I left them and began to look for him.
Dressed up in a simple yet elegant formal suit, chatting slowly in his well-known style with around 15 people lined up for his autograph, Yashji was in front of me. Like others, I just joined the queue. There were butterflies in my stomach. What happened next was like a dream.
Noticing a short and plump kid "standing out" in the queue, he called me, "Beta, idhar aao aap." Hardly believing my ears, I went ahead and said, "Sir, please autograph de do." He smiled. Then he asked me, "Aapko mera autograph kyun chahiye? (Why do you want my autograph?)" Dumbstruck for a moment, I finally said, "Kyunki aapne 'Dil To Pagal Hai' banayi hai, iss liye." He laughed heartily, took the autograph book from me, and asked me my name.
"Dear Divya. With love, Yash Chopra", he wrote on the first page. I ran away immediately, without even saying thank you. For the next few days, that page was my trophy, which I showcased wherever I went from the school to the park, from my friend's place to the market. Due to my negligence, the page got torn from an edge, but I immediately repaired it with tape and vowed never to carry it around again.
Long forgotten, that lifeless piece of paper suddenly came back to life on October 21, 2012. When I look at it today, I realise that I have preserved not only a memory but also a souvenir which I won for myself from a legend. Not many in this world possess what I do. The souvenir is more than enough for crores of fans like me, who will always love and adore the cinema this icon has left behind.
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