I suppose there had to be something prophetic in George Orwell calling his chilling futuristic novel '1984'. It was the year we had moved back to India and had settled into a new phase of our life, in Lucknow. We had our own little rituals. Going to the bank on pay day was one of them! It was a Wednesday, and I wonder what time the kids finished school that day, because we all went to the bank together, which was a good long 'tempo' ride away.( There were no ATMs in those days, and it seemed more prudent to keep less cash at home so that we'd spend less.) We then went to our favourite fast food joint for a dosa lunch. Those were the years when we had one 'family' dinner out each month, and one lunch out with me!
On our way home in another tempo, we heard rumblings that Indira Gandhi had been shot. We didn't know what to expect or what to believe. The news was confirmed much later in the day. The SRE worked at a location about 26km from home. We didn't even have a phone at home, and had no way of contacting him. Only when he got home, somewhat earlier than usual, did we learn of the harrowing fallout of Mrs. Gandhi's assassination. A senior colleague of his was a Sikh, and they all travelled together, in those days, in a breadbox like blue van.
On the way home they had to stop near a local polytechnic, where a mass of students were making sure that no Sikh was passing by in any vehicle. Since the van was high off the road, they could not immediately make out that there was a Sikh sitting in the back. The driver just raced away as fast as he could. The Sikh gentleman's house had security guards already, as there had been some labour issues at the factory. The blue van was parked in our garage, in virtual hiding! (We had a garage but no car). That evening, though, we did not really know how bad the situation was going to get over the next few days.
Early next morning I prudently bought whatever vegetables and bread I could. Schools and offices were closed, and later on in the day a curfew was imposed. My parents were in Delhi, and their downstairs neighbours were Sikhs. We couldn't contact them, and learned only later that neighourhood vigils had been set up to prevent mob attacks. My bread-wallah wanted to attend Mrs Gandhi's funeral in Delhi, and came back with horrible tales of the violence he had seen.
The horrors of that time cannot be forgotten. The potential for violence against our fellow human beings seems to be growing. How many times will our country have to face these horrors?