07 May, 2021

There Were A Million Revellers That Night

August 1947, and a 20-year-old with a camera. A never-before-seen album.

There Were A Million Revellers That Night

I had made up my mind as soon as the date was set: I would bunk medical school and go to Delhi to witness the first Independence Day celebrations. Everyone was set against it, including Gandhiji. "Are you mad?" he asked me when I met him in July and told him of my intention of going to Delhi for the celebrations. "What is there to celebrate—I shall weep tears of blood that day." But I was adamant. "Neither you nor I can change history," I told him with the easy familiarity I always assumed with him. "If you go, I shall never talk to you again," he declared, but I knew him for far too long to believe that he would actually carry out his threat. I knew Gandhiji from the time I was nine, when he came on a visit to Jamia Millia which was then a primary school of some 75 children and 15 teachers. Since I was the only child who knew Gujarati, I was picked to deliver the welcome speech to Gandhi as we all sat in a circle around him. After that, he never forgot me, perhaps because he already knew my father,...

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