Some people remember their loved ones who have passed on by keeping small mementos, old letters and photographs, or even keeping cremation ashes around. But one man in India took it to the next level.
To preserve the memory of his late wife who died from Covid-19, Tapas Sandilya keeps a 30kg silicone figure of her in his living room.
He placed her at her favourite spot on the couch, where he lovingly puts his arms around her shoulders, combs her hair, and arranges the folds of her sari – just like the doting husband he is.
Indrani passed alone on 4 May 2021 in a hospital bed while Tapas was in isolation due to the pandemic restrictions at the time. They had been married for 39 years until the brutal second wave of Covid-19 infected her.
Tapas tells The Times of India that he recalled a trip they took years ago to a Hindu temple where they had seen a very realistic religious statue.
“It was then that Indrani told me of her desire for a similar statue of her to be made if she happened to pass away before me.”
The 65-year-old also speaks about how his family discouraged him to go to such outlandish measures to remember his late wife, but to that he responds:
“If we can keep framed photographs at home after someone’s death, why not a statue?” adding that with the statue, it gave him the feeling that she is always there with him.
As for how the silicone statue was built, Tapas reached out to sculptor Subimal Das, who makes figures out of wax, fibreglass and silicone for public buildings and museums.
Apparently, it is not uncommon for people to request such sculptures of their deceased loved ones. Subimal mentioned that he had done this for other clients on seven different occasions.
However, this particular sculpture was challenging to make. The artist needed to use old photos of Indrani to create a 3D image in order to help get her facial expression right.
“It took three weeks just to graft on the wig. Mr Sandilya was very particular, wanting it curling a bit this way and falling a bit that way.”
After six months and at a cost of 2.5 million rupees (RM 132,914.86), the statue was then clothed in a customised blouse, silk sari, and gold jewellery.
Subimal also included an account of what Tapas’ reaction was when he first set eyes on the finished product.
“He couldn’t get any words out. He couldn’t speak. He was so overwhelmed and moved, as though a very deep wish had been fulfilled. I knew from his reaction that I’d done a good job.”