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‘She said we were her only family’

Snehal Fernandes

Posted: Jan 25, 2005 at 1334 hrs IST

All Saints Church plans to hold memorial service for Parveen Babi.

‘‘She may have been a recluse. But she was not lonely. There was a large community she stayed in touch with, members of the All Saints Church,’’ says Arpana Rangayya.

‘‘That’s Parveen Babi for you. Very warm, not ‘psychic’.’’

Arpana and husband Rev Fr Avinash Rangayya, priest in-charge at the Malabar Hill church, are upset that the ‘‘world’’ is saying Babi was mentally ill.

The couple says Babi accepted Christianity because ‘‘she finally found peace in Jesus Christ.’’ The actress, they say, was baptised on June 21, 1997, by Fr Arun Thomas in the presence of at least 40 church members.

‘‘She was a seeker who had been pursuing God and spirituality after having tried various gurus and ways of life,’’ says Avinash.

He says Babi surprised him in June 2004—he had just joined the church—when she telephoned him and said: ‘‘Welcome to our church. We’re happy to have you here.’’

Babi, says Avinash, spoke to him and other church members every fortnight. ‘‘But it was at a Christmas dinner that I met her for the first time,’’ he says.

Avinash almost turned down the invitation because his two-month-old daughter’s christening was on December 26. ‘‘But I’m glad I didn’t,’’ he says, adding with a sigh, ‘‘I regret not taking my camera.’’

The Rangayyas enjoyed the food. But Babi did not want to dsicuss films.

‘‘I realised that she wanted to talk about her new life, on her shift from neo-classical to contemporary furniture,’’ smiles Arpana.

The inmates at All Saints Home, a home for the aged at Dockyard, will always remember Babi as a generous person who gave them transistors, toiletries, talcum powder—and an old television set after her mother’s demise.

Jony Deniese (70), who has been in the home for 10 years, remembers Babi as the ‘‘lady in white’’ who visited them for a few years and then ‘‘faded away’’.

On December 25, Babi received communion for the last time. Avinash says she told him: ‘‘Everything, our meeting and the communion, happened at the right time. It’s God’s will.’’

snehalfernandes@expressindia.com

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