The 79th death.
[Text and selfie by Anupa Mehta]
She passed quietly at dawn, a shadowy wisp that flitted joyously to the Beyond.
Anupa Mehta, published writer, art consultant, mother, friend and lover in search of the Beloved, was born in a Vaishnavite Hindu family. Her grandfather was knighted Rao Bahadur, her father was a trustee of several temples. Her life was colourful and fulfilling. Despite its fullness, she slipped effortlessly, even magically, into the austerity of the Mevlevi order in mid-life.
The Dervish training led her to recognise the paradoxical nature of life, the necessity of being of this world, yet not of this world. In retrospect the many compartments of her life had mirrored this paradox.
Some may remember Ms Mehta as the founding editor of Art India magazine; a fiction writer, who wrote a dark novel, The Waiting Room, and a collection of short stories, Unseasonal Rain. Others may remember her as a gallery owner, curator and arts journalist, someone who introduced several young artists and curators to the Indian art world. A few close friends, though, may remember her for her other life, and the fact that she was a catalyst in bringing the Mevlevi Tariqa to India via her Sheikha.
On the morning of her passing, it rained heavily. Unseasonal rain. Unexpected passing, sighed friends.
A close friend who found her lifeless said, “She lay serene on her white sheathed bed, dressed in white, as if in perpetual sema. Her face seemed to be draped by a slight shimmer, as though she went wearing a veil of light.” Beside her, he found a framed picture of her child and her dog. And an unframed photograph of an unnamed man whose eyes brimmed with bright light.
Her friend also said, “For days after, the air in her room emanated a scent of weathered roses.” Her daughter recalled that her mother’s Sheikha, a canny old Dervish, had once gifted Ms Mehta a vial of precious rose oil, that rare and fleeting essence which heralds the comings and goings of beings who are of this world, yet not of this world.
Somewhere in Mumbai, a scent of roses clouds the air every time it rains.
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