17TH JULY, 1992, A Sad Day
KANAN was in indifferent health condition ever since her first heart attack in the late sixtees. However, she continued to take part in every social function and never failed to turn up at such gathering if she had promised to attend. She had been in and out of hospital but her energy along with her nature of being unable to sit idle helped her in achieving this. Even in June 1992 she had to be hospitalized for Pneumonia. During that time Suchitra Sen had visited her and was with her for about half an hour. In spite of the age difference Suchitra Sen was a good friend of KANAN.
The seventeenth day of July in the year 1992 KANAN was febrile but continued her domestic work like preparing Ayurvedic medicine for her son Rana and other trifles. Around six O’clock in the evening she had breathing problem. The family doctor was called in and she was shifted immediately to Belle View Nursing Home. In spite of the best efforts of the attending doctors, she breathed her last around twenty minutes past ten from Left Ventricular Failure. Present at her bedside were Rana, his wife Bula and their two sons Gopal and Gour. The very sudden loss of the head of the family left Rana and Bula too shocked to pass on the information to the media. Bula, KANAN’s daughter in law, just managed a phone call to Sebabrata Gupta, then belonging to AAJKAAL (a Bengali daily newspaper) . This gentleman, Mr Gupta however preferred to keep the “story” to himself so that the next day on the 18th of July, 1992-AAJKAAL became the only newspaper to flash the news of the departure of the legendary multi-faceted personality. All other papers reported her death on the 19th of July-when almost all Indians knew that KANAN was no more.
Her mortal remains was brought back to her palatial residence in Regent Grove that night itself. With the news spreading out that KANAN DEVI had passed away, people started to flock her residence and VIPs to ordinary people reached her home to play their last respects. The first VIP to attend was minister Mr Prashanta Sur. His residence was close to her’s. He was followed by Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharya , Minister of Information and Broadcasting, West Bengal who offered floral tributes on behalf of the West Bengal Government. The Governor also sent floral tributes. From the film line a host of stars presented themselves at Regent Grove. They included Tarun Majumdar, Sandhya Roy, Arati Roy, Debasree Roy, Anup Kumar, Madhabi Mukherjee, Ranjit Mallick, Tapas paul, Prosenjit, Shipra Mitra, Dilip Roy, Ruma Guha Thakurta, Sandhyarani, Nimu Bhowmick, Alaka Ganguly, Amala Shankar , Menaka Devi , Ardhendu Chatterjee, Shakuntala Barua, Papiya Adhikary and many others. Notable among the absentees were Suchitra Sen. When Uttam Kumar passed away, she did go to his place for a short time. When Satyajit Ray passed away she sent floral tribute. When KANAN DEVI passed away, she remained silent. No one will know why but by that time Suchitra Sen was already on her way to withdraw herself from the public.
Other than the VIPs and film folks, KANANs death was mourned by an endless stream of common people also turned up to pay their last respects. For most of them it was a personal loss because KANAN had turned MASHIMA, meaning aunt, for all residents of the locality. People waiting in the queue for a last glimpse of her discussed who to turn to now when in need. Who would buy new school-books for their children, who would bare the cost of new glasses when the old one broke and so on and so forth. KANAN believed in charity but that was done with secrecy for the honour of the beneficiary and not for any publicity. That was not needed. Film personalities and her neighbours knew that very well.
The West Bengal Government kindly offered to supply the hearse to carry her body to the Burning Ghat. This was politely rejected by KANAN’s family and the members of the MASTERDA CLUB OF SURYANAGAR took charge of the funeral although the West Bengal Government’s hearse took a stand by position and remained behind the hearse carrying her body. Her funeral was a low key business because she wanted it to happen that way.