Kolkata: It was love at first sight for Pradip Kumar Banerjee, who met his wife Aarti under one of the most peculiar circumstances.
The Melbourne Olympics-returned Banerjee was at his prime in 1958, and was made a chief guest for a function at Madhyamgram, on the outskirts of Kolkata.
High in demand, the Indian football star failed to mark his attendance, but made up for that by personally visiting the hosts, who happened to be from the renowned Mazumdar's House of Cornwallis Street.
Floored by his humbleness, the patriarch of the house made a direct proposal: "Will you marry my daughter?".
"My heart skipped a beat as a young girl wearing a frilly frock with a badminton racquet barged into the room. She was a bundle of energy, bubbling in her own joy as her father introduced her to me," Banerjee writes in his memoir 'Beyond 90 Minutes', co-authored by Anirban Chatterjee.
"I knew she was the girl I was waiting for all this time. I somehow lost my suave in front of her, and the only sound in the room was the loud creaking of the aged ceiling fan."
The usually calm and composed Banerjee spent a sleepless night and requested his parents to accept the proposal.
Banerjee would then make it a point to visit Aarti's house once every week after practice, and love blossomed.
Keeping away from the public glare was a concern, so Banerjee would take Aarti on her scooter and they would "roam endlessly" on the streets of Kolkata.
The courtship lasted five years before they tied the nuptials, a famous wedding of the early 60s, which was attended by actor and his close friend Soumita Chatterjee and many other celebrities of the time.
Banerjee described his wife as his emotional anchor and her death to liver cancer in 2003 left a permanent void.
"Even in my darkest dreams, I could not conjure a life without her, and my heart shrivelled thinking of the repercussions," PK writes in the book, remembering the day when doctors told him that his wife was living her last few days.
"Life for me had become meaningless. Life was never the same again. The tragedy had shattered me in many ways. Everything I achieved or won in my life was pale in front of this loss."
Banerjee died here on Friday afternoon after a prolonged illness. He was 83. —PTI