31st October

I am delayed in penning my thoughts about 31st October by 2 days as today we are already on 2nd November.

I clearly recall the October of 1984. I had turned professional a few months ago and was looking forward to enjoying my first Diwali as a professional as that gave me some handle on additional money to spend. A South Indian colleague of mine had invited for Diwali brunch at his home and I had a hearty meal of South Indian delicacies – dosa, idli, vada, uttapam finally washed down by a steaming hot cup of filter coffee. Diwali was rather early in the last week of October.

And then the tragedy took place. Mrs Gandhi was shot by her trusted security guards and she was fighting a losing battle in AIIMS. Incidentally, my residence at that time was quite close to AIIMS, about 2 kilometres away. While the rumours were having a field day, it was not before evening that the news came that Mrs Gandhi was dead. And there was palpable tension everywhere. We could see discomfort all round and the first of rioting seemed rather understated and harmless with rioters asking people to stay indoors and not to come out on roads. But as the evening progressed, the news of anti Sikhs rioting started spreading all over. Ours being a sedate, cosmopolitan, government employees’ colony was calm and we all ensured that Sikh families were saved from the wrath and rage of rioters. Of course, how this spread like wild fire everywhere resulting in death of thousands of innocent and damage to the property is all encapsulated in the dark chapter of the history of our nation.

There had been riots before, but not on such a scale and of such ferocity. In fact, those who had seen the woes of partition termed these riots as the next worst thing. It’s a matter of gratitude to the almighty that the nation has since moved on from that dark phase, burying the memories of the tragedy forever by embracing the brave snd hard working Sikh community back into the national mainstream. And it’s back to same Hindu Sikh bonhomie that makes the two communities almost like one, while retaining their distinct identities.

This 31st October added another bad news into its repertoire as the first and original silver screen James Bond, Sean Connery, died at the ripe old age of 90. His persona, demeanour and portrayal of Ian Fleming’s flamboyant spy remained unmatched with repeated surveys voting him to be the best Bond ahead of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. His delivery of the catch line – “ My name is Bond – James Bond” remains immortal.

RIP Sean Connery.

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