Unicorns and nymphs are not for real. Or so I thought. Till that day when I saw her walk alongside Boney Kapoor to launch the Bengal Tigers team. Being the media handlers for the team gave me a ringside view.

She must have seen me a couple of times walk into the out-of-bounds zone with media requests for interviews, for she gave me half a smile or something like that as she walked past. And in that brief moment a thousand glass bangles a la chandni chimed in my ears.

That professional glance, that half-recognised look, that sudden swirl of hair and a divine fragrance was enough to last a lifetime. And then to see her gone just like that like the full moon that disappears behind a bulbous nimbus only to shine elsewhere. She lived the life from a fairytale and left sparkles of stardust spread in the silent sands of a foreign land.

When Raghavendra Rao’s blockbuster JVAS became a mega hit, it did not just set a new landmark on the Telugu socio-fantasy scene, but also shot a certain Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan to the pinnacle of stardom. In Bollywood she scorched hearts alongside Jitendra, Mithun Chakraborty and of course Mr Amitabh Bachchan.

Her filmography is known to all. From Julie to Mom she has been the apple of the eye for all movie buffs. Sadma and Judaai gave her critical acclaim. Then like a Neelakurinji from her native lands she took a break for some 12 years before reappearing in her mature avataar.

Neelakurinji, these purplish blue flowers, found in the shola forests of the Nilgiri Hills blossom only once in 12 years.

She was rare. She was precious. And like all precious objects she came as a limited edition. As the sand clock of her life ran out she left us like the unicorns and nymphs from the picture postcards of our childhood.