For veteran actor Saira Banu, the 99th birthday of the legendary star and her late husband Dilip Kumar will be a day of quietly remembering the "lively and vibrant” man she was married to for 55 years. Kumar, who would have turned 99 on Saturday, passed away on July 7 due to prolonged illness. Banu said though it is a "terrible vacuum" to not have him around physically, she still believes that he is walking side by side with her.
"I will do the prayers, remember him and I want the day to be very quiet. I want to visit the Juhu garden (Juhu Qabrastan) where he is (buried)," Banu told PTI.
Remembering the past birthdays of Kumar, one of Hindi cinema's biggest icons known for films like "Mughal-e-Azam", "Devdas", "Naya Daur", and "Ram Aur Shyam", Banu said the house used to be filled with flowers and colourful bouquets as wishes came pouring from his fans in India and around the globe.
"The house would be full of flowers, there were times when bouquets would be on all the floors, steps and everywhere in the house and we would not have enough room for it. It used to be that wonderful. He was so loved by people. He still is,” she said.
Banu described Kumar as a very lively person and a foodie who had a penchant for simple clothes and loved sports.
The 77-year-old veteran said Kumar loved his simple white cotton clothes with white footwear for everyday wear, though he had many beautiful suits and shirts.
"He was very much into good clothing. And good food and he was a marvelous cook too. Whenever he would want to, he would try (to make) new things like soup and other items,” she said.
Banu said the late star shared a great bond with children and had his own tricks to entertain them.
"He is a man who is so alive and vibrant. It is a terrible vacuum for all of us," she added.
Banu shared that for several months she had been sending out meals to the poor on Kumar's behalf. It is often said time heals all wounds, but Banu said life has become unimaginable without her saheb, as she used to fondly address him.
"I am not too good. I am striving to make myself fitter. You can imagine it is a very difficult job. It is a terrible jolt. I really wonder how long it will take to recover or if I do recover," she said.
Banu had shared screen space with Kumar in quite a few films like "Sagina", "Bairaag" and "Gopi", before their marriage in 1966. The actor said that the memories of over five decades she spent with Kumar is what keeps her going.
"(I believe) he is walking side-by-side with me with his hands in mine. He is very much there, that's the way I think and that is the way I want to live and be alive. It is unimaginable for me to walk without him, you know, we have shared a life together. It’s been 55-56 years of togetherness,” she added.
"Every marriage has ups and downs but we had a wonderful happy time together. He has been so supportive in my life. It has been my good fortune to have shared my life with him. I will always treasure him. He will always and always be alive for me," Banu said.