(Death in Exile for M. F. Hussain – Picasso of India)

Riddled by a series of court cases pertaining to his controversial paintings, Maqbool Fida Hussain (1915-2011) died in a London hospital on June 9, 2011.  His paintings sold hours after death at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale – far above the € 10,000 – 20,000 estimates.  Indian government offered facilitation if the family wanted burial at home.


The capacity of the great painter was distinct and spirited.  I am sure just the same remained right up to his last days on earth.  I look at the wealth of meeting Mr. M.F. Hussain a couple of times: once in Mumbai and the other time in Dubai.  On the first time when my husband and myself saw him walking by himself on a Mumbai road, we pulled our car to the side and requested him to come to our home which was only a short distance away from us.  He valued our invitation with absolute spontaneity; as regards the visit, the maestro with his easy-going regal style, walked up and down the length of our drawing room, keeping a kinship with the walls where he saw his own work and viewed the paintings of his contemporaries with a subtle smile.  Nearer to the exit door, he asked me to get paper and pen.  In a matter of moments, the great painter had established goddess Durga seated on a lion.  Methodically, he put his signature, the date, and as I admitted my delight, his parting words to me were, ‘Because you did not ask me to draw – I wanted to leave this for you’.  In between time, I had the chance to keep in touch with his painter-son, Shamshad and one of his other brother.  Many many years later, we met Mr. M. F. Hussain again at an event decorating his works at Capital Club, Dubai.  In a large space full of eager watchers and listeners, the grand old man – Picasso of India and myself went through the same memory lane of long ago.  In a click, he was quick to recall that Sunday afternoon of Mumbai. The nostalgia is too special, too precious for me and I had to share it with my readers.

Geeta Chhabra


Nissim Ezekiel – Considered as the father of post-independence Indian verse in English, Nissim Ezekiel played centre-stage in inaugurating the Modernist revolution in Indian poetry in English. 

As a poet, critic, editor, teacher, political commentator, he has had a lasting influence on Indian literature in English.  He passed away on 9th January 2004, at the age of 79.


Geeta Chhabra Comment Form
Form a link. Comment inside the box below. Your views will be published in a coming edition.