As the youngest Mangeshkar scion, Usha Mangeshkar was the closest to her legendary sister Lata Mangeshkar. Three months after Lataji’s going, Usha has yet to process the enormity of the loss. “I have convinced myself she is still with us, although I can’t see her anymore. After her passing forth into the other world our home, Prabhu Kunj has gone eerily quiet. While she was there, people were in and out of our home constantly. Besides there were several nurses and house-helps to look after her. Now it’s just me in the house.”

How is Usha dealing with the bereavement? “I am not dealing with it. I still feel as if Didi is in her room. I don’t go there. I call on her phone, and we have refused to put a garland on her picture. Didi is still with us. And I am not talking as an ardent fan of her voice, which I am. For me it is a loss that no one can understand. I was the youngest sibling. She was more of a mother to me than a sister.”

Lataji’s pet dog was missing her constantly. “Everything in the house reminded the dog of Didi. So we’ve shifted her to my brother Hridaynath home in Pune.”

Usha is now trying to divert her mind from the irreparable loss by focusing on her painting, a passion next to singing. “All of us Mangeshkars like to paint. Lata Didi was also a very devoted painter. But I had the time to pursue it more than she. It was her ardent wish to see my paintings published in a book. Composer-musician Mayuresh Pai who was very devoted to Didi, has floated an entertainment production company named after Didi: Latika Creations. This company is publishing a compilations of paintings, entitled Strokes Of Harmony, mostly mine but some of Didi and other members of the Mangeshkar family too,” informs Ushaji softly.

Latika Creations will next publish a coffee table book of Lataji’s photography. Says Usha, “Yeh aapko pataa hai, lekin bahot fans ko nahin pataa hai (you know this, but a lot of Didi’s fans don’t). Didi was a very keen student of photography. In her heydays, she carried her camera to every studio clicking pictures of her colleagues. We have searched for photographs and found the rarest of pictures. The book will reveal another side of Didi.”

Three months after Lataji’s going, the tributes keep pouring in.

Usha Mangeshkar is bowled over by PM Narendra Modi’s speech on Lataji at the function where he received the first Lata Deenanath Mangeshkar award.

“How did the Prime minister know so much about Didi? His research on her was so through, and he spoke straight from the heart. The Prime Minister was right. Didi is no ordinary phenomenon. Such a talent comes once in centuries. And she was so down-to-earth, so homely and warm to everyone. Just days before she was hospitalized Didi was cooking for all of us. Now she is gone. But I feel her presence constantly.”

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