Bollywood diva Rekha says her life changed the moment Lata Mangeshkar called her "Mahalaxmi" during her birthday celebrations last month.
"That moment changed my life," exulted the diva.
"You know, Lataji and I share a very special rapport that goes back to when I was probably two or three years old. That was when I heard her singing in my sleep. And what a way to be woken up! She was singing 'Aaja re pardesi' from the film 'Madhumati'. My mother used to hear this song at full volume. I'd jump up in my cradle and start dancing," Rekha said.
Rekha remembers every detail of that encounter.
"I even remember the timing, and what my mom was wearing, and what perfume. So, last month during Lataji's birthday celebrations I told her that I used to hear 'Aaja re pardesi'... Pardesi to miley nahin lekin iss bahaane mujhe meri Lata didi mil gai (I couldn't find pardesi but I got Lata didi)."
Rekha also recited Gulzar saab's poetry "Tumhi se janmoon to shaayad mujhe panhaan miley" from her film "Astha" for Lata.
"It was so apt for Lata didi. I went a step further and said I wanted Lataji to be born from my womb."
"What can one say about birthdays? I had no 'duas' to give her. I think she's so cute. That's why I'd like her to be my daughter."
It was at this point of Lataji's birthday celebrations that the Nightingale referred to Rekha as 'Mahalaxmi'.
Rekha confirms, "Yes, I just died at that moment. The general public may have a high opinion of me. But her? The woman I worship. That moment has changed my entire view of life. It was a very positive kind of tsunami - it changed my life. After hearing her call me Mahalaxmi, it would be perfectly all right if I drop dead right now. It's a moment that is engraved in gold in my mind.
"Actually, my mother used to say I'm a very special child. 'You're a devi that's born out of my womb.' I used to laugh. But now Lata didi saying this in front of so many people. I don't think my life will ever be the same again."
Lata is equally fond of Rekha and said: "I know she's genuinely fond of me. I love my songs for her in Ghar and Silsila. I find her very clean-hearted. Ek din to kamal hua...suddenly I was told Rekhaji had come visiting. We chatted like two sisters all evening.
"She told me she wanted to learn singing. She never forgets to wish me on my birthday. Her love for me isn't put on."