A year ago, on this day, I was in bright on getting ready for a cold and blustery walk on the beach. The phone rang and an Indian friend from London told me to switch on the television. There was some bad news.
Then not able to contain himself, he said. “Indira Gandhi is shot, she is dead.”
The TV set gave the details in refined English accents. The Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was shot this morning by some members of her personal guard. The medical report is that she is dead. Being BBC, there was no question on doubting the news.
The news of the death also came much before it was officially announced in India though this I came to know much later. As also the other details.
There was nothing much to do, so I proceeded on my walk on the beach. It was a grey morning threatening to rain, the kind of weather you associate with tragedy and death. Though england has this sort of weather on other occasions also. The beach was empty, except for a few old couples sitting huddled and miserable in their overcoats on the benches. Pensioners, they call them in England, senior citizens in the US. In India we call them our parents grandparents and stay with them in large joint families.
It was the last day of September. The summer was officially ending, though actually it had ended long before, and winter was in the air, the damp, foggy winter of English seaside resorts. I took a long walk, a detour past the hotel where a bomb had exploded a few weeks ago, then Mrs. Thatcher and the Conservative Party members were staying in the hotel. The damage was extensive, a whole side had crumbled, fallen in neat heap on the ground. But Mrs. Thatcher had been saved.
One prime minister escaped another was dead. Strange, I thought. If I was another kind of Indian, I would have talked about karma and what you are born with has to be.
When I returned to the main shopping area brightens The After noon Argus & Mail was out. A poster of the Argus outside a wine shop, announced. Indian PM Indira and had some wine and cheese and read the paper. They had done a quick job in England, some of theprovincial papers are better than our national papers like the Hindustan Times Mrs. Gandhi’s whole life was there right from the time when as child she used to make political speeches to her dolls.
After that I decided to come back to India by the first available plane. I was expecting to come back to an India in great strife and disorder Instead, I came back to Rajiv Gandhi’s India.