Bollywood actor Ashish Chowdhury says soon after he lost his sister and brother-in-law in the Mumbai terror strikes, he had to leave for South Africa to shoot comedy scenes for the film Seasons Greetings.
"I sobbed through the flight. I didn't know how I was going to do it (shooting). But when I faced the camera, I was funny. I didn't know how it happened, but that experience gave me strength. I realised I've to keep the show going. No one will know what I was going through when they see my comic timing in Seasons Greetings," Ashish told IANS.
"I can't question god for what happened. I can't question anyone. But I'm not scared of calamities any more. I just want the strength to fight setbacks," he added.
His son Agastya's birth Jan 2 has dissipated some of the clouds that gathered around Ashish's life after the death of his sister and brother-in-law.
"In one swoop life changed forever. The trauma will never be forgotten. But my son's birth has brought a bit of sunshine for all of us in the family. We all wished it would be a baby girl after my sister Monica was gone. But since Monica was a tomboy, a boy is just fine. He's the gift of life that has brightened our lives," he said.
After the trauma of losing his sister and brother-in-law, Ashish, who has been seen in films like Qayamat, Shaadi Ke Ladoo and Speed, his family faced a difficult time again.
"About two weeks ago, my mom slipped and fell in the bathroom and fractured her spine. When my dad went running to help her, he slipped and fell too, fracturing his hand, and dislocated his finger. My mom will have to go through a very complicated surgery. She hasn't seen my baby yet. And that breaks my heart, and breaks her heart too."
"I'm my parents' only child now. My brother-in-law Ajit Chabria was his parents' only son. I now have to live not only the life of a son but also the other child that my parents lost. There are too many hopes hanging on me.
"I'm done with self-pity. I feel I'm born again. I can't hurt anyone any more. After what happened to me and my family, I actually called up people whom I know to ask them if I had ever hurt them in the past. I was seeking answers for what happened. I was told I never hurt anyone. That comforted me."
Ashish says his wife Shamita chose the name Agastya for their son.
"Everyone loved the name. I was keen on a Western name, so I call him August - Ash, like Nicole Kidman's kid who has two names."
The actor is now looking out for his sister's children, Kanishk, 12, and Ananya, 7.
"They see me as a kind friend and father figure. They stay with their grandparents. I see my sister and brother-in-law in them. They are as precious to me as my own son. I'd hate to call them responsibilities. They're an integral part of my life. I'd do anything to make them happy."