Thursday, February 29, 2024

Wo Jab Yaad Aaye, Bahut Yaad Aaye: Rafi Saheb

That was a new year’s eve a couple of years ago and the very elegant Bandra in Mumbai was glittering as Delhi does during Diwali.The weather was perfect and the cool breeze was blowing in a festive season. And yours truly was on mission of his life. 

While we were moving towards Bandra from far away Juhu, one could hear the memorable song by none other Mohammad Rafi- ‘Wo Jab yaad aaye, bahut yaad aaye…’ And the song from the film Parasmani was sounding even better as we were close to Bandra. Well, we have to visit the abode of Rafi Sahab.  It was a long cherished desire.

As we entered the very block where Rafi Sahab had lived for decades together, my driver told me, ‘We are reaching any time there…’ He knew  the exact location of Rafi’s sahab house. This is what he had told me. So I was relaxed that he would take me to the his house .  Nilesh was driving from one street to another in Bandra. He was also telling me that Bandra is a bastion of Christians and that is why you see so many houses have illuminations. They are illuminated since Christmas and  it would go on for two days at the most .

 And finally, Nilesh announced, ‘ Sir, this is the house of Rafi sahab. I could see rows of private bungalows. He stopped the car in front of a house. I got down and went where Nilesh had directed me. Alas, it was not the house I was looking for. I told him that this is not the place of Rafi sahab…

 An elderly lady was walking there. I thought she is a God send. I asked her, ‘Does she know the house of Rafi sahab ?’ In a terse reply, she said, ‘I believe it is here only. Ask somebody else…’ 

That  someone lives in Bandra area, yet not aware of Rafi’s sahab place? I thought I should ask this question to her.

 Now Nilesh also came down and helped my cause. We were looking  the nameplates. Lo behold, I found the  plaque  that says- ‘Rafi Mansion.’ I touched the plaque. Read it couple of time. It was fading. Perhaps nobody bothers. I was assailed in thoughts about  Rafi sahab. I was thinking about his days and years when he had lived here. He shifted to this spacious  around 300 yards bounglow in 1950s.

And on July 31, 1980,  his massive funeral left from here only.  That was the day when Mumbay was pouring like never before as rain God was also mourning the demise of a saintly singer.

As we were still standing outside the gate of Rafi’s house, a kurta pyjama wearing guy came out. He looked at us with smile.  I asked him,  ‘Have you seen Rafi sahab? ‘ Gulping the packet of paan masala in one go, he replied, ‘ Not at all. I am not that old’. It was a different  matter that  his greying beard and dignified tummy belied his age. He told us, ‘ “His ( Rafi sahab’s) son and son in law live here in separate floors.  One part of the house is sold.”

 Meanwhile, some friends from Mumbai told me that the his son, Shahid, is facing legal battle with HDFC bank. HDFC Bank had filed a petition in the court seeking possession of Shahid’s flat. The bank has claimed that Shahid had signed a deal to sell the flat from a company called Nimbus Industries Ltd. and the company had taken a loan of Rs 4.16 crore from the bank to buy the flat. When Nimbus could not return the money, the bank has claimed the property in court.

Property dispute apart, as we were living Rafi sahab’s house, there was a feeling of triumph and fulfilment.  Visiting the abode of your idol gives you so much joy as  Rafi sahab has given to his millions of fans.

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