Just across our house was a playground belonging to the New Era School.
In the evenings, some enthusiastic seniors used to conduct classes for
young boys and girls, imparting them training in various disciplines
in order to make them responsible citizens of future India. There were
about forty to fifty participants. The classes started at 6 pm, but many of
us reached there early to play.
On that fateful evening, I must have reached there around 5.30 pm when
a boy named Sudhir arrived and announced that Gandhiji had been shot.
His father had just received the news from New Delhi while talking to a
business friend over the phone. In those days, having a telephone was a
luxury and long distance calls were only made when absolutely necessary.
The gravity of the news did not sink in immediately, but I nevertheless ran
back home to announce this. My older sister immediately tried to switch on
the radio, but sadly ours was not working. The valves had blown!
Both the transmission and the reception, were very poor back then.
So we went to our neighbours’, where the news was confirmed.
The next thing I remember is grabbing some chalk sticks and spreading
the news by scribbling it on the roads and pavements of our neighborhood.
This was the easiest and fastest way of communicating with the masses back
then, in the absence of telephones.
People started gathering, all in shock and total disbelief. An elderly Parsi Lady
living right across, came over to check with my father if the news indeed was
true. Only a few days earlier, a bomb had exploded at Gandhiji’s prayer meeting
but fortunately. he was not hurt then.
The next day, Gandhiji’s funeral was held and we were all glued to the radio
listening to the live running commentary by Melville D’Mello –
to my mind the best commentator India has ever had. He would describe the
minutest details in his own inimitable style and a booming voice.
A few days later, an urn containing the Mahatma’s ashes
arrived in Bombay and was taken round its streets prior to its immersion
in the Arabian Sea. I took some photographs of the event with the simple
Kodak camera I possessed then.
It is now seventy years to that tragic day and looking back, I feel
very sad as to what has become of this great country. Then, we had
dozens of selfless leaders across the length and breadth of the country, serving people,
sitting at the feet of the Mahatma. Today, we only have self-serving
power-hungry scoundrels who call themselves leaders.
Thousands of years ago, there was one Mohan (LORD KRISHNA)
on the banks of the river Jamuna, who charmed everyone with his magic
flute and who gave mankind the Epic- the Gita. On this day in 1948,
another Mohan ( Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) , the great apostle of peace and the
father of our nation, lay on the banks of the same river, slain by the bullets of a
On the seventieth anniversary of his martyrdom, I join my countrymen, in paying tribute
to Mahatma Gandhi!