Kalpana Lajmi was just 17 when she fell in love with Bhupen Hazarika who was 45 at that time. When the music maestro turned 80, he offered to marry her, but Lajmi, who has been living with him for the past 38 years now, turned down the offer saying the 'wife' tag was unnecessary to their relationship.
"Bhupso (Kalpana endearingly addresses Hazarika as Bhupso) did offer to marry me two years ago, but I said no," Lajmi, 54, told IANS in an interview.
"May be he wanted to give me the status of wife, but I was not interested. For me, the relationship, the trust and the respect that we share with each other are more important than marriage."
Lajmi, best known for her woman-oriented films like Rudaali, Daman, Ek Pal, Chingaari and Darmiyaan, says she met Hazarika through her uncle.
"I met him through my uncle Atma Ram. When I saw this frail, skinny man wearing a striped orange shirt, I was charmed," Lajmi said as she bared her soul about her relationship with Hazarika, now 82.
A year later, Lajmi was able to enter both - Hazarika's heart and home.
"We have been living together for the past 38 years now, although my mother never accepted the relationship, nor did Bhupso's family members, barring Manisha (Bhupen's younger brother Jayanta's wife).
"Just about a couple of months back my mother asked me to get married to Bhupso. This is completely Indian mentality you know," she said.
Lajmi says they were not possessive about each other.
"Bhupso had a lot of beautiful women in his life during the last 38 years. I was also in love for some time with another man."
Talking about Hazarika's family, she said: "His former wife Priyam keeps calling him on phone and visited our home in Mumbai. She now stays in Canada and Bhupso's son Tej is settled in the US."
The couple generally stays in Mumbai. But for the past three weeks Hazarika, the last of India's most well-known balladeers, is in Guwahati with his partner.
Hazarika has produced, directed, composed and sang for the Assamese language films like Era Batar Sur (1956), Shakuntala (1960), Pratidhwani (1964) and Lotighoti (1967).
So was Lajmi able to make a difference in Hazarika's life and career?
"I think I'm 95 percent responsible for Bhupso's career flight. He was an intoxicant and I helped him get rid of that habit."
Lajmi says Hazarika is an introvert and a short-tempered man.
"We have huge fights as he is a very angry person, besides being emotional and insular," she said.
The 82-year-old legend is not keeping well, and Lajmi devotes most of her time looking after the love of her life.
"My career has suffered for the last three years as Bhupso is not keeping well and I have to nurse him and do everything for him," Lajmi said.
"I love Bhupen Hazarika."