WE went to see Bachi Karkaria, queen of the pun, both prosaic and poetic, at Breach Candy Hospital yesterday, as she lay recovering from surgery performed a few days earlier. We were prepared to see her lying in bed, and to offer her our tenderest sympathies and kindest words etc.
We need not have bothered. She was up and sitting in front of the window of her room which must have one of the best views in Mumbai, monsoon ocean, tumbling rocks, leaping waves and the blue of the Breach Candy swimming pool. And of course she had visitors, as she has had all weeks, scads of them coming to inquire after her health, which is expected to be very good indeed shortly.
Nothing wrong with her sense of humour, however, or the occasional flash of waspish observation which is completely intact. It was evident in her column in the TOI which appeared that same morning that we were there, full of wit and puns and swiftly-evoked analogy. “Don’t make me laugh”, she warned, and then proceeded to entertain us instead. When we marveled that she was sitting up already, she said, “It might have been sooner but I had so many visitors that the chairs were always taken up and people couldn’t sit on the bed so I stayed put”.
But only Bachi could have written her column from her hospital bed, working on her Macbook Air, which is a lot like her, light, slim but filled with features. Bachi and the late Behram Contractor who once edited this paper, the only journalist we know who could drink himself to a standstill and then land up in office by 8 am, neither bright-eyed nor bushy-tailed but column-ready.
Like him, even with major surgery, the continuity of her marvelous writing has hardly missed a beat. Already, we are pleased to announce, she is getting well soon!