Veteran actress Vyjayantimala was Shiv Sena [ Images ] supremo Bal Thackeray's [ Images ] raakhi sister, and one of the many old friends of the family.
Distraught with the news of his death, she termed it as a personal loss.
Vyjayantimala looks back at her long association with Balasaheb.
I can't believe Balasaheb is gone. He was my raakhi brother, and very dear to both me and my husband (late Dr Chamanlal Bali).
Doctor Saheb (husband Dr Bali), Balasaheb and I go back a long way.
We've known each other for decades. I've even attended Shiv Sena meetings with my husband in Mumbai [ Images ]. I called him up recently and he was so wonderful with me.
He didn't spend too much time with one guest because there were always many people waiting to meet him. But he spent a good 45 minutes with me.
He gifted me with statues of Pandurang Vitthala and Rakhubai Vitthala and said, 'Whenever you perform your Marathi dance drama, you must keep the statues on stage with you.' They were packed meticulously into a crate and hand-delivered to me in Chennai. They looked light but they turned out to be solid stone.
I have so many beautiful memories of Balasaheb. The last time I met him, his son Uddhav and daughter-in-law Rashmi were present with him. He served me poha and idli which he had especially got made for me. When I was leaving, he said, 'Behna, don't forget to send me my raakhi.'
I told him, 'Even if I am not here, my raakhi will definitely reach you.'
I have lost a brother.
Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar