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Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity."" - on the night of August 14th and 15th, 1947.
Indira with her husband, Feroze Gandhi...
Nehru with his grandson Rajiv
Mrs. Gandhi with daughter-in-law Sonia in 1977
Rajiv, a young family man...
At Indira Gandhi's funeral
"If I die a violent death as some fear and a few are plotting, I know the violence will be in the thought and the action of the assassin, not in my dying...."
Later, Rajiv at Indira Gandhi's Samadhi
Rajiv becomes Prime Minister following the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi
In the thick of politics...
Rajiv and Sonia campaigning together...
Rajiv's funeral following his assassination...
The funeral pyre
Rajiv's body engulfed by the flames. The Gandhi family and a grieving nation gathered at the banks of New Delhi's sacred Yamuna for the final rites. In a field beside the river, 20 year old Rahul Gandhi walked 7 times around the remains of his slain father. He tapped the head, swathed in white cotton, with a wooden staff in a symbolic gesture meant to liberate Rajiv's spirit by breaking open his skull. Then he lighted a torch to the base of the funeral pyre made of sandalwood.
Even as a teenager Rahul was aware of death hovering over his family, and Rajiv and Sonia prepared their children to steel themselves mentally. They even drafted identical but separately signed funeral instructions for their children.
Rajiv's instruction read thus: "In the event of my death as well as that of my wife, Sonia, at or about the same time, at the same place or at different places, within or outside India, our bodies should be brought to Delhi and cremated together, in accordance with Hindu rites, in an open ground. In no circumstances should our bodies be burnt in a crematorium. According to our custom, our eldest child Rahul should light the pyre. It is my wish that our ashes should be immersed in the Ganga at Triveni, Allahabad, where my ancestors' ashes have been immersed."
Sonia and Rahul standing pensively as the flames from Rajiv's funeral pyre leapt into the sky.
Sonia Gandhi emerges...
Even as the flames from Rajiv's funeral pyre flickered across the TV screens, people were already examining his teenage son and daughter for signs of a successor. Most people were certain the one face disappearing soon from public life would be their mother's.
Gone is the hesitation, the gingerly spoken Hindi, the effort to hide the odd mix of Italian and cosmopolitan-Indian accents in her English, the apparent lack of self-belief. Not just her face but her whole body language is now different: the brisk walk lifted straight from her mother-in-law, the way the shoulders are squared under the drape of her cotton saris. It is a makeover that seems to have played well with the Indian public.
The transformation of Sonia Gandhi's face—from grief-shattered widow to reluctant, wooden, political leader and then to the recent, vividly alert fighter—is surely a visual graph for the country's past decade.
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