NEWS

Vikram Seth Breaks Down During Tribute For Mother Leila Seth

"As many of you have shared your thoughts, mama is not gone, she continues to be with us."

31/05/2017 12:11 PM IST | Updated 31/05/2017 12:17 PM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
File photo of the late Leila Seth, first woman judge on the Delhi High Court and the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court, at her home, during an interview on October 16, 2014 in Noida, India. (Photograph by Pradeep Gaur/Mint Via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI -- Recalling his mother's life left author Vikram Seth in tears on Tuesday at a memorial held for Justice Leila Seth, in what was a befitting tribute to a woman whose life and values continue to inspire people.

The novelist reminisced his childhood and soon got so emotionally overwhelmed that he was even unable to read a poem he had dedicated to her.

Seth, 64, who anchored the solemn event that was attended by several eminent personalities from all walks of life, maintained a somewhat calm disposition, but towards the closing, was left emotionally overwhelmed.

And, as he read out the first line of the poem--'All you who sleep tonight'--he choked, even as he tried to retain his composure. But, he choked again, and was soon reduced to tears, even as a deathly silence prevailed in the room.

The poem, part of the collection, 'All You Who Sleep Tonight', composed by Seth in 1990, was finally recited by his younger brother Shantum.

"Mama (Leila Seth), as many of you have shared in your thoughts, is not gone, she continues to be with us, in spirit and, she will continue to do so," Vikram said earlier.

And, as Shantum, sitting in the front row at the IIC Auditorium, read out the poem, Vikram sat at a piano on the stage, leaving many in the audience also teary-eyed.

Leila Seth died of a cardiac seizure at her Noida residence on May 5 at the age of 86. Before death, she had pledged her eyes and entire body for donation.

The memorial service was attended by Justice (retd) Rajindar Sachar, many Supreme Court lawyers including Vrinda Grover, noted musician Ustad Amzad Ali Khan, designer Ritu Kumar, and a host of other eminent personalities, besides close friends and family members.

Executive director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Maja Daruwala, in her tribute, said, "This memorial should not be a closure...Rather it should be a beginning, and she should continue to live on in each one of us, through the values that the she stood for."

At the foyer of the hall, a portrait of the late Justice Seth was kept, alongside a pack of postcards, bearing her image one one side and the poem "All you who sleep tonight" on the other.

Close family friend Tehmina Punwani, who attended the service, said, she "lived with the courage of her convictions" and set an example by her high standard of exemplary living.

"And, she lives on."

Granddaughter Anamika also played a Bach's piece on the piano while her elder sister Nandini read out a portion from Seth's autobiography 'On Balance'.

Seth was the first woman chief justice of a high court in the country.

The eminent jurist, much-admired in the field of law and in other professions, championed sharper legislation for women.

She was one of the three members of the Justice Verma Committee which was constituted after the December 16, 2012 gangrape in Delhi for recommending legal amendments for quicker trials and enhanced punishments for criminals accused of committing sexual assaults against women.

Seth had also authored 'Talking of Justice: People's Rights in Modern India', published in 2014, which looked at critical issues that she had engaged with in a legal career spanning over 50 years.

Also On HuffPost:

Vinod Khanna: A Style Icon

More On This Topic