In the 10 hours that Dr Prashant Mangeshikar dodged death at the Taj Mahal hotel with his wife and daughter on the night of 26/11, he doesn’t recall once holding his wife Tilottama’s hand.
Though the Mangeshikar couple survived the traumatic night, their marriage didn’t. The couple filed for divorce by mutual consent earlier this year.
“In December, we will sign on the dotted line,” says the 53-year-old doctor, a pioneer in gynaecological endoscopy.
Their close encounter with death, says Tilottama, helped crystallise their decision to end their “loveless relationship”.
The 49-year-old anaesthesiologist and pain specialist has relocated to Singapore, where she works with a leading hospital.
The Mangeshikars, who had their consulting rooms on the ground floor of the family building on Laburnum Road in Gamdevi, were a popular couple in the south Mumbai social circle. Few knew of the personal differences that had been “brewing for over 20 years”.
“The 26/11 trauma made me realise how fragile one’s hold on life is,” says Tilottama. “What life is left must be lived in complete honesty to yourself and your loved ones”.
Prashant’s take is a bit different. “Having survived that night with my family, I was willing to try and plug the big hole in the sinking ship. But that didn’t work,” he says, stroking his walrus moustache. “It hasn’t been easy… a divorce is expensive,” he adds in a lighter vein.
On the upside, he is now looking forward to getting a pet dog. “My wife was mortally afraid of dogs,” he smiles.
Their 21-year-old daughter plans to train as a pastry chef in New York while their 26-year-old son (names withheld on request) is set to become a doctor.
“I remember speaking to my son from the Taj. I told him we were probably not going to make it,” says Prashant. “This deeply affected him. He seemed to have aged overnight when we met next.”
Tilottama says her move to Singapore was prompted by the “disillusionment at the apathy of my still-beloved country”.
“Singapore has a reputation of a country where Big Brother is watching,” she says. “But I have never felt so safe.”