Mandava Kutumba Rao is basking in the afterglow of the warmth of his late wife Kasi Annapurna Devi, thanks to a precious and rare gift that had arrived at his doorstep on the night of November 13 last year – a life size silicone wax statue of Annapurna, gifted to him by their only daughter Sasya, who lives in the U.S.
Annapurna Devi had died of ill health on July 17 in 2020, leaving behind a shattered Kutumba Rao, who struggled to deal with the loss.
Nothing seemed enough to fill the void left behind by her.
“My wife was the light of my life. She was a pillar of support through thick and thin, and I owe my successful business today to her,” says an emotional Kutumba Rao, looking straight in the eyes of the wax figure, seated on a giant wooden swing in a room in the first floor of his house near Chuttugunta Centre.
The swing, earlier placed in the living area, was her favourite place. “She would sit on it and watch her favourite TV programmes,” recalls Kutumba Rao, explaining that what was earlier their home theatre in the upstairs, has now been transformed into a private space where the wax statue is placed.
Unable to see her father sinking in depression, Sasya came out with the idea of gifting him the wax statue that she thought would make him feel a little better.
Draped in green silk sari and adorned with glittering jewellery, the statue looks like it will talk any moment. “Unlike normal statues, these are flexible,” he says, tweaking the fingers of its hands and toes.
He is into electrical works and flower decorations, but his passion lies in living with and tending plants and rearing ornamental fish showcased in giant size aquariums dotting every corner of his house.
Sasya engaged a local sculptor, B.V.S. Prasad, to carve her mother’s statue.
“I received a call from the U.S. asking if I could sculpt a silicone wax statue. I asked for three months time, but she said it had to be within 40 days as she wanted to gift it to her father on her mother’s birth anniversary on November 14,” recalls Mr. Prasad.
Taking up the challenge, he and his team worked non-stop to carve out the figure and delivered it on time.
“We first made a clay mould and after getting their approval, we sculpted a fibre wax silicone statue,” he says.
The room where the statue is placed is treated like a temple. In the ground floor, a garlanded portrait is placed prominently with fresh fruits kept in front of it.
“Mangoes and custard apples were her favourite fruits and so I make sure I get them daily. If they are not available locally, I import the fruits from the neighbouring states,” says Kutumba Rao.
The sari on the statue will be changed on February 6 and so will be the jewellery. “It’s our marriage anniversary. I can’t thank my daughter enough as she has almost eternalised Annapurna’s presence in the house,” says Kutumba Rao.