It’s been a year since we lost actor Irrfan. His wife, Sutapa Sikdar, and son, Babil Khan, reminisce about what he was like as a father:
Babil Khan (BK): He was my best friend. We didn’t have a father-son relationship, he really was my best friend. Between the age of 13 to 16, we had a rift because I was at the age when I was growing up and I needed my freedom. And he just didn’t understand freedom. We didn’t speak for a whole year. Usually, I would be the one to go and say sorry but this time I didn’t. It took one year but for the first time, he came to me, hugged me and said, ‘Shit, you have grown up. I didn’t want you to grow up and you have and that’s what I’m mad about.’ There was no breaking us apart after that. I could make him laugh like no one else could. We would laugh so much together and I really miss that. We would lie down and talk for hours about nothing and everything. He was my bestest friend.
Sutapa Sikdar (SS): He could really speak to his sons about anything and I would get a little scandalised and say: Not now, they are too young. But he would talk about everything. He was never embarrassed about his body. He would always change his clothes in front of them and I would be like, ‘Tum kaise ho yaar?’And he would say, ‘Body hi toh hai. Allah ne di hai sabko.’ It’s not a normal father-son or a husband-wife relationship. I’m not saying it was something special but it was not something easy to find.
I know I will not break down, I’m a strong person. will look after my kids and house. But there is not even a second when I feel like I can have fun now that I don’t have to take care of Irrfan 24X7. Babil now says: Mumma now is your time. You do this and that. But it just doesn’t come from the inside. I don’t give a damn about society. Maybe one day I will fly but I have not been able to. Physically, he is not there in this house but I don’t feel like he’s not there around me. I feel like he was sitting here only yesterday. We don’t have a sad atmosphere at home, that’s why. I can’t accept that because he isn’t here physically, that means he isn’t there.
BK: It hits in the nights especially.
SS: I can’t just be like, ‘He isn’t here so we will forget about him and move on with our life.’
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Anupama Chopra: Babil, you posted a photo of a diary that you had given to him when you were 12 years old. And he wrote notes for you as an actor.
BK: And I had no idea that he’d done that. It was insane for me to find that. At night, it becomes really difficult (to cope). In the daytime, I don’t notice because I’m working a lot. But at night, I miss him terribly. So sometimes, I go into his room and just open drawers and look around for no reason. I found the diary I had given him in a drawer in his cupboard. I opened it and there were notes on acting.
One day before he went to the hospital, he said ‘Poori duniya mujhse acting seehna chahti hai, tum kab seekhoge mujhse?’ I was like, ‘Yeh toh mujhe karna hai, let’s do it from tomorrow onwards.’ Then, from the next day, he was in the hospital. To find the diary after that makes it feel like he hasn’t gone. He had a special connection with nature. I don’t want to say this because I am superstitious, but there are things that I observe in nature through animals and the wind specifically that makes me feel like he is still in our presence.
SS: You do feel strange signs.