THEY WOULD speak about life, songs, studios, recordings, families — even her “payal (anklet) collection”. Over the last two years, she grew so close to one of them that she would chat with his eight-year-old daughter on video call.
For doctors and nurses at Breach Candy, the passing away of Lata Mangeshkar in the hospital was personal. “Today, my little daughter is grieving,” said Dr Pratit Samdani, internal medicine specialist and consultant at the hospital.
Samdani first met Mangeshkar in 2019 when she was rushed to the hospital after complaining of breathing difficulties and placed on life support for a while before being discharged.
“We developed an affectionate relationship. Due to Covid restrictions, she refrained from visiting hospitals and on a weekly basis would consult me on video call for over an hour or so. During these calls, she would often share memories of various incidents while recording songs in studios, performing on stage and working with other singers. She was so humble and would often inquire about my family’s well-being through messages during the pandemic,” said Samdani.
“She also developed a special bond with my eight-year-old daughter. She would often video chat with her during consultation. Lata didi wanted to meet my daughter but due to the pandemic, it couldn’t happen. But they met virtually several times over video call. My daughter was so fond of Lata didi that she sent handwritten letters to her,” he said.
This time, too, Samdani was hopeful he would be able to send his 92-year-old patient back home in good health. But age and ailing health were not on her side.
Mangeshkar was admitted to the hospital on January 9 after being detected with Covid, and placed in the Intensive
Care Unit (ICU). And although she recovered slightly last week, her condition deteriorated and she was put on a ventilator. At 8.12 am on Sunday, she breathed her last.
According to oldtimers at Breach Candy, the singing legend had been visiting the hospital for over three decades.
Caregivers at the facility say they “have grown old with her and share a bond”. Many of them were emotionally overwhelmed when doctors announced that she was no more. Several in the nurses room broke down in tears.
“We provide treatment to several celebrities, but we strictly limit our personal communication with them. But Lata didi would always initiate a conversation. She never hesitated to give autographs to staffers,” said a nurse who had been involved in caring for Mangeshkar for over 25 years.
“Earlier, she would listen to songs, especially ghazals, when she had to get admitted for health issues. She loved ‘payals’ and would often tell us about her ‘payal’ collection,” said the nurse who declined to speak on record citing hospital norms for staff.
“But this time, she looked more fragile and frail. Due to Covid, there were strict restrictions on staff visiting her in the ICU. Healthcare workers would peek through the glass on the ICU door to catch a glimpse of her,” said the nurse.
Doctors involved in Mangeshkar’s treatment remember her as a “down-to-earth” person.
Last year, when Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at Bombay Hospital, visited her at her Peddar Road building, the singer “expressed concern about the effect of Covid on the livelihood of the poor”. “She also expressed her desire to help those in need. She had a nightingale voice and a golden heart,” said Dr Bhansali.
At Breach Candy, the nurse summed it up: “For all of us, Lata didi was not just a patient but a family member.”