The pain came back on his 66th birthday. And as he was being rushed to hospital, Bollywood's biggest icon Amitabh Bachchan was hoping it was not a rerun of three years ago when a crippling abdominal ache kept him in hospital for two months.
"Please pray that it is not like the previous episode," Amitabh told me before leaving for hospital Saturday for tests.
Like all of us, the mega-star hoped he wouldn't have to go through the nightmare of December 2005 when, one not so fine morning he had woken up with a severe stomach ache. He came out of the hospital only two months later.
On Saturday morning, Big B woke up with a feeling of deja vu. Yup! The pain was familiar.
In the morning, when I wished him "Happy Birthday", he said: "I've been struggling with severe stomach pain the whole night. The doctor has just left. I'm under medication and have been prescribed rest."
"Is it a cake ache, Amitji?" I joked like a fool, unaware of the gravity of the situation.
"I don't eat cake," he replied tersely. "I'll be leaving shortly for a CT scan."
That's when it hit me.
This was not just a birthday tummy ache, this was serious. The Big B fought off the pain for the entire day before his birthday. He was worried about his fans.
Like he told me a few days before the painful birthday, he isn't particularly fond of the fanfare that accompanies his birthday every year. But he goes along with the celebrations for the sake of his friends and fans.
And that's what he didn't want to spoil this year when the nagging pain in the stomach started. He ignored it and waited for it to pass so that on his birthday he would be able to greet his fans as per tradition each year, and accept their greetings with a warm smile and a wave.
As the morning of the birthday approached, it became clear to the Big B that he wouldn't be able to go through the mandatory annual rituals this birthday.
Most likely the situation is not as alarming as it seems.
"Don't worry," said daughter-in-law Aishwarya.
And I thought … not on his birthday, please! This man, this icon doesn't deserve this.
Pain and the Big B are major allies and silent co-conspirators.
When he's in pain, he goes about his life as normally as possible. Therefore, no one had an inkling of what was coming.
Two days before his birthday, we spoke for a long time in the morning. When I suggested a birthday interview he suggested, "Let's talk first. We'll do the interview later."
And we had one of those rare no-holds-barred conversations where he spoke to me about everything under the sun… and son.
He was in his element. And when he told me about another project with Tabu after the historical with Chandraprakash Diwedi, I was hysterical.
"Ok, calm down. That's some way to go. So don't go writing about it," he warned me. "And don't even ask the director about it," he quickly read my mind. "He'll talk sweetly to you and then call me to ask why I've to tell you everything."
The Big B was in one of most relaxed and best moods. That was just two days ago. Who would've thought his birthday would take such an alarming turn?
Don't be surprised when he walks out of the hospital after the tests and the fans will still be there to wish him a happy birthday.
And he will meet them just as he had planned before the pain.