05 December, 2020

Three Encounters, One Enduring Image

I once chanced upon my hero, the PM. But it was two deaths that showed me the real India.

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Three Encounters, One Enduring Image
Three defining experiences remain in my mind after all these years.

A winter evening in Baroda. My friend Kirit and I were playing outside the temple that occupied the ground floor of the block of flats in which both our families lived. His family, the Patels, lived on the first floor and we, the Desais, lived on the second floor. The whole house had just four flats and fronted at a busy crossroads, with one road leading to the Laxmivilas Palace and another leading to Dandiya Bazar. The temple jutted next to a paan shop and a barber’s establishment.

That day the two of us, just seven years old, were unhappy. The temple was not having its usual pooja and hence no prasad for us to eat. There was a heavy atmosphere. Then we heard that someone called Godse had killed Gandhiji. We were both called back inside our homes. Reaching my home, I found our front room full of people; at least thirty to forty grown-up women and men were standing listening to the radio we had placed in a bracket on the wall. In those early days, ours was one of the...



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