Kolkata: A ‘Gaja Gamini’ painting still adorns the hall of Azad Hind Dhaba. But MF Husain, the man behind the work who loved to eat aloo ka paratha and kebabs at this Kolkata eatery, will never walk in again.
The Punjabi food joint at Ballygunge Circular Road in south Kolkata was a must-visit for Husain during his short trips to the city.
"Whenever Husain Sahab came to Kolkata, he would make sure he spent some time here. He loved aloo ka paratha, and a special vegetable and kebabs topped his menu chart. He would chat with us like an ordinary man," Madan Sharma, one of the partners of the restaurant, told reporters.
The dhaba, which began in 1948, is part of a chain of restaurants. The popular eatery is frequented by a wide cross-section of people, from celebrities to taxi drivers.
"Husain Sahab was so impressed with our food that he gifted one of his paintings to this restaurant in 1996. Then in 1999 he again painted `Gaja Gamini` on this same painting and signed it," said Sharma.
The painting that adorns the wall of the restaurant depicts the picture of a woman painted in green standing with a small luggage on her head and a small elephant standing behind her. The whole picture was drawn on a canvas which earlier had a red background.
Husain last visited the restaurant in early 2006 - he left India the same year. During his last visit he relished aloo ka paratha, potato cauliflower curry and chicken kebabs.
With news of Husain`s death reaching the city, a sense of grief hangs over the eatery. He hadn`t visited for a long time, but the memory of home is alive.
Many photographs of Husain at the restaurant, having food and talking with the restaurant staff now adorn its notice board.
But the man himself is gone. Husain, one of India`s most prized and gifted painters who was forced to live away from his homeland, passed away in London Thursday at the age of 95.