Situated next to Girgaums century-old church of St Francis Xavier is St Sebastian Goan High School. On Wednesday,it seemed like a regular day at the 87-year-old school,except that it wasnt.
Greta Parretta,the headmistress of the primary section,had interacted with a slew of mediapersons in just two hours. I joined in 1977 and rarely saw the school witness such a frenzy. Then again,its not every day that you get to speak about a superstar alumnus. The superstar shes alluding to is Rajesh Khanna,who died on Wednesday.
As soon as Parretta heard the news,she asked everyone in the school to observe a two-minute silence.
For Kashinath Gaikwad,a senior peon who has been working in the school for 28 years,said: By the time I joined the school,Khanna was already a star. But my uncle was a peon during his school days and told me that Khannaji was a sincere and well-mannered student.
Anil Baburao Chari,who lives right next to the school,remembers the days when Jeetendra and Rajesh Khanna would come to school in their cars a Plymouth and MG. They would run out of school and buy ice cream,golas and chikis from vendors outside my house.
Just a few buildings down the road is Saraswati Niwas where the veteran actor was born and brought up. The landlady Varsha Joshi,whose grandfather built the structure,reveals that Khanna was not money-minded. My father interacted a lot more with him. By the time I grew up,the actor had moved out but he always met me warmly. He trusted us and never interfered with our role as the caretaker, she said.
Three floors up,the mood in the Thakkar home is also sombre. After all,their 3BHK was owned by the late superstar Rajesh Khanna until he sold it in 2000. Showing the picture of her family with him,Hiral Thakkar recounts how thrilled she was to meet him. Twelve years ago,when we came to know that he was interested in selling this place,we rushed to his Khar office to close the deal with him. Rajesh Khanna was quite attached to this place as he grew up here. He told me to retain his room as the kids room.
I loved all Rajesh Khanna films,including Amar Prem,in which he said the famous lines: Pushpa,I hate tears. My name is also Pushpaben, says senior Mrs Thakkar. Inputs Dilip Kagda