Life is unpredictable, but life shouldn’t be treated as callously as the recent terror attacks in Mumbai have shown. It leaves my mind in a chaotic state to know that five years hence I am writing an obituary for my ex-boss, who lost her life in the mindless killings of 26/11 at the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Sabina Sehgal Saikia, or ‘Boss’ as we used to call her, was my editor at the Delhi Times of The Times of India, where I had a brief stint as a correspondent. In few months that I was there, I got an opportunity to meet her daily for those ‘dreaded’ meetings to decide the next day’s story line-up.
Never known to mince her words, Sabina made her team sweat and rake their brains for ideas, but all for the cause of a ‘good’ story. In fact, I remember that during one of those sessions I had put my foot down (though very meekly as I couldn’t gather courage to raise my voice in front of ‘boss’… nobody could!) and said emphatically that I would be able to do a story, which did not really belong to my beat.
Later, during the meeting Sabina just said that she liked the fact that I had shown an attitude of confidence and wanted to see such a go-getter spirit again and again. Now, when I think of it, I know that her tough exterior was just to extract the best out of her team.
She was passionate about food and this is evident in her food columns, where she reviewed restaurants week after week. In fact, her enthusiasm and passion for food could also be seen during office, when she would get dabbas from home to be shared among her colleagues. She would also reserve her choicest comments on food that one got from home kitchens and most of the time they were encouraging, which made one smug to receive such praise from the connoisseur herself.
Sabina had an aura that made people sit up and take notice of her and also listen to her. Nobody really dared to argue with her. I remember when she entered office there would be a suddenly flurry of activity and soon we would be listening to her hearty laugh or see her standing next to one of the work stations and sharing some anecdote.
She had been instrumental in getting Delhi Times on its feet and making it the hot and happening must read for those who wanted a glimpse of Delhi’s high society. She is also responsible for making Delhi Times Page Three the sought after page to appear on by socialites of the city. She was Consulting Editor with The Times of India at the time of her untimely demise.
She leaves behind her husband Shantanu Saikia and two young kids, a daughter (14) and a son (11). Sabina lived her life to the fullest and will always be remembered as someone who lived and didn’t just believe in merely existing. In these difficult times, we pray for her family.
(Tuhina Anand, special correspondent, exchange4media.com, recalls the time she had spent working with Sabina Sehgal Saikia at Delhi Times.)