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Published on 15 Oct 2012 | over 4 years ago

I remember I was quite a bit in awe of Benazir before we met - I had read her book and done tremendous research. For me she seemed a real life heroine.
We instantly struck a rapport, because she was the one to initiate it, I remember she insisted on my calling her Benazir, It didn't seem the right way to address a Prime Minister, but she was adamant, 'just Benazir - that's it!'
And she would call me 'Seemi' that's how she pronounced it. Then I found out Seemi was also a Pakistani name.
I was struck by her lack of pretension; she was without airs or graces. She introduced us to her children, personally fed each member of my crew with cakes and tea; and gave me a lovely silver momento which I treasure.
Benazir was one of the few guests with whom the friendship continued and grew. We'd meet for lunches in London, We corresponded by email, I have all her affectionate letters, We spoke on the phone. I remember everything about her. The 'sisters-lunch' in London with Benazir and her sister Sanam - and my sister Amrita and I. I remember her infectious and spirited laughter...and her incredible warmth...
She had seen my documentary on Rajiv Gandhi and asked endless questions about him. She was very curious about India, Indian life and Indian politics. We also had a lot of 'girlie-girlie talks'..
Benazir was always restless and yearning to go back to Pakistan. As if each month away was hard to endure.
Her last e-mail to me was just before she returned to Pakistan on that fateful trip. She was so excited: but it filled me with a foreboding.
Benazir had extraordinary courage. Too much courage...
We lived in different countries, Benazir and I -but at least I knew she was there in this world.
And then, in a flash, she was gone. I shall miss her enormously.


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