Tabassum (Baby) on Suraiya (2012)
In both Badi Behen (1950) and Moti Mahal (1952), I played her younger sister. The song Chee chee rona from Moti Mahal was filmed on us. When she’d hug me, her perfume filled my senses. I asked which one it was. She said it was ‘Worth’. I also began wearing that.
I was to die in the film and the song Kismat ne hamein rone ke liye was to be filmed on her. She requested that I be present on the sets, “I don’t want to use glycerine. When I see you, I’ll feel as though my sister is sitting in front of me.”
I was too young to understand her romance with Dev bhaiyya. But he’d often ask me, “Tumhari Suraiya apa kaisi hain?” I’d say, “Should I tell her that you were asking about her?” He’d say, “If you do, it would be nice!” Suraiya apa would also ask me, “How is he? Is he keeping well?” Suraiya apa was scared of her nani (grandmother). She’d enjoy playing with me but the moment her nani came, she’d stop playing saying, “Nani aagayi!”
It’s sad that she had shut her doors to the world in her last days. Sometimes when I visited her, I’d find papers and milk collected at her door. She never opened the door. But she’d talk comfortably with me on the phone. I remember our last conversation. I asked her, “Aapa kaisi hain?” She replied in verse, “Kaisi guzar rahi hai sabhi poochte hai mujhse, kaise guzaarti hoon koi nahin poochta.” Her death was similar to the lonely deaths of Nadira and Parveen Babi. (As told to Farhana Farook in 2012)