A thread — from the book — “My years with Rajiv” by Wajahat Habibulhah.
He writes about getting shot at in March 1991 outside the Jami Masjid in Nowhatta — Srinagar. That afternoon he gets a call from Rajiv Gandhi. “Be careful”, he cautioned. “take care of yourself”. Sometime later he gets a call from Mr. Vincent George telling him to expect a package from Indian Airlines. Next day the package is delivered. Upon opening it, he finds a bulletproof vest. Years later, he asked Sonia Gandhi whether it was an old vest. She informed him that it was Rajiv Gandhi’s only bullet proof vest; something he had been advised to wear always but rarely did. He offered to return it and Sonia Gandhi refused saying that Rajiv had wanted him to have it.
Dr. C.K. Gariyali was told by the Raj Bhavan of Rajiv’s assassination. Dr. Gariyali rushed to the hospital and made arrangements for the body to be flown to Chennai. Sonia Gandhi & Priyanka had flown from Delhi to receive it. Mr. Gupta, his personal security officer, was also killed in the blast. Dr. Gariyali recalls that the only words spoken by Sonia Gandhi were “Where is Mr. Gupta? how will i face Mrs. Gupta if i go back without her husband?”
And she waited till Mr. Gupta’s body was brought by ambulance to Chennai. Both these incidents bring to the fore possibly the most important attribute in a leader . That of compassion and love enhancing their sense of duty which ultimately directs their actions. That, this sense of compassion never leaves them even in times of great personal agony is reflective of how deeply ingrained it is in their very being. I saw this in Rahul’s address a few days ago when he spoke to Rajeev Satav’s family.
In today’s time, where abuse is normalised, it is important that we remember that grace triumphs eventually. Rajiv Gandhi’s legacy will be examined today; his various achievements and failures will be brought forward, as they should.For me, he will always be the embodiment of sincere effort and gentle demeanour. Wajahat ends by quoting from Hamlet, “Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”.
An apt tribute to a gentle soul.