There has been an impending fear among all of us because he was very ill and serious. We were all prepared for the worst, so the news didn't come as a shock, yet I am extremely saddened by it. His passing away means an era is over. There's a huge sense of an emptiness that cannot be filled.
All of us, my entire family and I, knew him for more than 40 years. Our families were very close to each other. We had a great deal of regard for him.
Mere liye toh who pita samaan the (He was like a father figure to me). He used to talk to me informally, at the 'tere mere' level - one of the few people who spoke to me like that.
I must say that I learned a lot from him -- when to say what, how to conduct yourself in public, especially with the other gender, and all that. His emphasis on Indian culture and tradition was appealing - the way he himself dressed, his being particular about the way girls and women dressed. He didn't like to see married women without mangalsutra and sindoor. Once, in front of me, he had reprimanded a couple of women who walked in and told them they should never ever come to see him without mangalsutra and sindoor.
I don't know about the world, but for me, he was an ideal human being. He used to have a small bungalow where his residence Matoshree now stands. I would very frequently go there to see him. Even when he was very busy with his work, attending functions all over Maharashtra, we would still be in touch with one another.
Our relationship was not political at all. In fact, he was more interested in my music. He would always request me to send across my latest and new records that were to come out in the market. Even when we spoke over the phone, he would request me for some of my music.
He would listen to it despite his busy schedule and he would always call me back to give his reaction. That meant a lot to me; I would value it and think a lot about what he had said. He liked my music and I liked him.
I was most touched by his gesture this April. He was ill and not comfortable talking. Yet, he came to a function on the occasion of my father's death anniversary because he had promised. He couldn't talk much; his speech was read out by his man. I was so moved. But he had come. When I called later to thank him, he told me: "I had come only for you and your father. Though I am very unwell, I wanted to come."
Whenever we met, he would joke a lot. He was that kind of a person. He would discuss cartoons, talk about work in that field but never about politics. We would talk a lot about history also, and particularly Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, but not in the political sense. He was a very learned man. He was also a great communicator.
The angry and volatile side of him is something I have never seen. I have heard about his famous fury but personally I never felt that he could be an angry man. No doubt he was outspoken and he was fearless. Very fearless.
We have lost a very dynamic, fearless and bold leader.
As told to Afsana Ahmed
(The author is a legendary singer and is called the 'nightingale of India')