Kalpana Shah will spend the second anniversary of the 26/11 terror strike at Shirdi. It was a place her husband Pankaj often visited when he was alive. “I have decided, every year I will go to a spiritual place on that day. In 2009 I was in Rishikesh,” she says in an interview to The Hindu.
Though she loves Mumbai, the city where she was born and brought up, the memories of that day are too painful. Kalpana, 53, has never gone back to the restaurant at The Trident, now refurbished, where her husband was killed.
Sense of purpose
Yet she has gone ahead with her life with a sense of purpose and direction. The scars are deep, however. Her children, her mainstay, real estate business and passion for painting, have held her together. “It is my son and daughter and the support of good friends and family and my own discipline, positive thinking and yoga that has helped. No one can ultimately help you. You have to help yourself,” she says.
The terror strike destroyed a very close-knit family. “I had the best husband and was lucky to have a good married life. The void leaves so many unresolved questions but I feel unless I see the positive side of life, my children too will be miserable. We live for our children and through our children. Thinking of them brings a smile,” she says.
It was a proud moment for her when her son graduated with a first class from the London School of Economics recently. After coming back, he has become the managing director of Group Satellite, a real estate company in which Kalpana is the chairperson.
“I held on for two years till my son was back. The incident has made my children stronger and more mature. Whenever I lose confidence I look at them and I feel the energy coming back,” she adds.
The school her daughter attends was fantastic in dealing with the crisis, she explains. Her daughter underwent a lot of pain and depression, but has now emerged beautiful and confident.
“There are many things around me to give me grace and dignity. I have my painting — I did a show some time ago which gave me a lot of praise. When I paint I can be with myself and it's meditative. There is a lot of peace and solace. But I have very little time so I paint crazily when I have time and then nothing for a month.”
She believes that you have to mentally open your emotions to the world. When you extend your love and see the big picture, things begin to calm down.
She has also started attending social events in the city and outside. “Life has to move on. For how long can you close the doors? When I think of my husband with love I miss him very much. But when I think of my love for everybody, then I feel light,” she says.
The terror strike has changed a few things forever. ”My son and I don't fly together. And before every take-off we send each other one last message full of strong ideas and love,” she reveals. Her son feels nothing is certain, everyone has to be prepared for any eventuality. Her son insisted the family must have its own crest. “I laughed at this idea but we do have a family crest — ‘strength and honour.” I am so glad my husband was part of that idea. We keep up his values at home and in the company,” she recalls.