She is in Punjab's Ludhiana with her son Suchindra to attend a family wedding. But dancer-actress Vyjayanthimala Bali is in no mood for celebrations grieving for Bal Thackeray who died in Mumbai on Saturday.
"I can't believe Balasaheb (Thackeray) is gone! It's a very personal loss to me. We shared a very close association and friendship. He was my raakhi brother and very dear to both me and my husband. I am very very sad to know he's gone. He meant so much to me and my family."
"Doctor Sahib (husband Dr Bali), Balasaheb and I go back a long way. We knew each other for decades. I've even attended Shiv Sena meetings with my husband in Mumbai. I called on him recently. And he was so wonderful with me. Normally he doesn't spend too much time with any one guest because there are so many people there to meet him. But he spent a good 45 minutes with me," she said.
"Do you know, he gifted me statues depicting Pandurang Vitthala and Rakhubai Vitthala. Beautiful black statues which are the pride of my possession," she said.
She recalled that Balai said: "Whenever you perform your Marathi dance drama you must keep the statues on stage with you."
"The statues were packed meticulously into a crate and hand-delivered to me in Chennai. They looked light. But they turned out to be solid stone," she said.
I've so many beautiful memories of Balasaheb. The last time I met him his son Uddhav and daughter−in−law Rashmi also joined us, she said.
"He served me poha and he also served idli which he had specially got made for me. When I was leaving he said: 'Behna, don't forget to send me my raakhi'. I told him, even if I am not here my raakhi will definitely reach you," she said.
"I've lost a brother and a dear friend," the actress said.