She sang like an angel and lived like one too bearing immense pain with a smile and dignity till she succumbed to cancer on Wednesday afternoon. Ratnika Tewari was trained in Hindustani vocal music and gifted with a versatile voice to sing out different genres such as ghazal, folk, bhajan, thumri, tappa or dadra.
Beneath a photograph of hers in her garden, she writes on Facebook, ‘To me, a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug’. She was a rare human being who cared less for the material and the worldly and lit up hearts with her song and smile. Belonging to the music-loving Tewari family of Chandigarh, the youngest sister of singer-actor Kamal Tewari, she inherited the gift of music from her mother. Her exceptional talent surfaced when she was still a child. I recall hearing her for the first time at a cousin’s wedding when she was just six, singing a ghazal with the right emotion and nuances.
She did her masters in music from Government College for Girls, Chandigarh, and became a music lecturer there. She went on to become an associate professor who trained innumerable students in classical music. Besides, she was a grade ‘A’ artiste with the Doordarshan and All India Radio. She sang for regional films and remained content living in the city, busy with her job and caring for her two children, Pragun and Prarthna.
Her contemporary poet-actor Madhavi Kataria writes: “Do you know how many of us are feeling shattered? That you were loved so abundantly and vastly? That you have earned so much love and respect in your life, which shall remain long after you have passed into eternity”.
The students remember her with love. Minni Dilkush says: “I have lost my guru, my mentor, a great singer and a very nice human being.”
Big brother Kamal says, “We have lost the jewel of our family”.
Adieu Ratnika, your songs will live with us always.