Congress MP Gurudas Vasant Kamat always laughed at the love-at-first-sight ‘syndrome’. It was, he felt, a Hindi cinema cliché, quite alien to reasonable men and women. But when love ‘struck’, he never quite recovered. Hearing him recount his experience can put many a writer to shame.
Rewind to 1978. He spotted Maharookh Dumasia combing her hair in the balcony of her Mumbai flat. “I had never seen anyone so beautiful. I kept staring, my feet rooted to the ground. Within minutes I decided — it’s her or none.” Determined not to leave anything to chance, Kamat invited her to a concert in his college — which meant escorting her home late at night. He waxes eloquent about how he was besotted and how she changed his definition of love. It is but a strange coincidence that Maharookh means a ‘great face’.
Maharookh fell in love with his photo before having met him. In fact, she was unaware that her friend had a sibling until she saw the picture. “Have you looked at him closely?” Maharookh inquires, pointing to an “attractive spot” in his right eye.
‘Guru’ to everyone else but ‘Gurun’ to Maharookh, Gurudas makes his wife richer by way of saris every birthday. “He buys by the dozen.” But the problem begins when Gurudas tries to display them in the room for her to “walk in”. For that, Maharookh has to venture out of the house, something she rarely does when ‘Gurun’ is around. One year, he chose to deck the saris out in the living room at the crack of dawn. In the process, he slipped, hurt his toe and screamed. Maharookh came to the ‘rescue’, finding it hard to control her laughter at the sight: ‘Gurun’ writhing in pain with beautiful saris strewn all over.
The 52-year-old Gurudas is a staunch faithful and a regular at Mumbai’s Sidhivinayak temple. Each time he has invoked the Gods, his prayers have been answered. This includes his electoral victories and a lease of life for his nephew. “The doctors had given up. I took my brother to Sidhivinayak to offer prayers. When we returned, the doctor said he would pull through. I remember he had called it a miracle,” says Kamat.
He gets nostalgic about the day he was invited to launch a new car model. Having grown up with a somewhat obsolete Fiat, Kamat has fond memories of Premier Automobiles. His father, Vasant Anandrao, had joined the company as a junior typist. Years later, when Kamat walked into the premises, he was introduced as Vasant’s son rather than as an MP. There’s another sentimental value attached to the premises: he had first set eyes on Maharookh nearby.