“I can feel his presence all around me,” says Bappi Lahiri’s son Bappa Lahiri
Written by Swaati on February 18, 2022
It is always very awkward to connect with the bereaved family when a loved one is gone, exactly when is it the right time to express one’s condolence? I reached out to our dear departed Bappida’s distraught son Bappa two days after the bereavement with a message. He called me back, sobbing. “Daddy really liked you. He had lots of respect for you. He never had an unkind word for anyone. Always generous and warm to everyone including strangers. I remember how angry and upset I would get when journalists would write something against my father’s songs. You know how it is when you are young? You don’t want to hear a word against your parents. I’d pick up the phone to call the journalist. He would stop me, chide me for being impulsive. He was always the one to calm me down, hold my hand when I was lost…now who is going to guide me,” the son sobs inconsolably.
I remind Bappa that his dear dad is very much there. Bappa agrees. “I know; I can feel his presence all around me. I just can’t see him anymore. But I can talk to him. When I was informed in Los Angeles—that’s where I live and work—that my dad was no more, my world fell apart. I didn’t know what to do. There were no immediate flights and I don’t know how I managed to get three tickets for me, my wife and son. It was as if an invisible force guided me through that 23-hour journey to see my father for the last time.”
Bappida had not been keeping well for the last couple of years. Says his son, “He did not take the passing away of Lataji well. In fact, my mother and sister tried to hide the tragedy from my father. But he got to know. Daddy was really broken by the death of his Mata Saraswati. He was in the hospital a few days after Lataji’s death, then he came home, ate ghar ka khana had a bath and was relaxed when his health suddenly deteriorated. By the time they took him to the hospital he was gone.”
Bappida was getting ready for a trip to LA when God made other plans for him. Says Bappa, “Daddy was to join me in LA in May. In fact, he asked about his passport and ticket when he was in the hospital for his visit to LA. Dad loved to be in LA with me. We have a lot of fresh air where I stay.”
Bappa’s 4-year old son Krish is a big fan of his grandfather. “We didn’t have to tell Krish about his grandfather. He started to dance to his songs on his own. I guess music is in our blood. My grandfather was a great musician. My father was one of his kind. My sister and I are musicians. I am sure our children will follow.”
Bappa is overwhelmed by the love for his father. “There is not one person in the industry who has an unkind word to say about him. Our home was an open house. Anyone could drop in anytime. My father would offer his hospitality 24/7. So many struggling singers and musicians came home for meals whenever they wanted. I have learnt to be kind and generous from my father. I know I can never be half the person that he. There will never be another one like him.”