She made me proud to be an Indian in 1971 and again in 1974. I was in my teens then, but in 1975, she lost my respect by declaring emergency and disgusted me so much that I actively worked to help defeat her in the general elections in 1977.
And then, like a phoenix she rose from the ashes and came back to power in 1980. Her third term as prime minister was not like her earlier stints. This was not the same person, perhaps she had lost direction, or perhaps personal tragedies had somehow changed her. Then came Operation Blue Star in 1984, and her subsequent killing by her Sikh bodyguards.
She had been a part of my existence during my formative years and I still remember the sense of loss that I felt when I received that news. The pain and hurt transformed into anger at some point. And for a long time after that, every Sikh, in my eyes was a criminal and somehow responsible for the atrocity. I had heard about the resulting riots and killings of Sikhs in Delhi but never realized either the magnitude or the brutality or the senselessness of it all. Perhaps I just trivialized it as something bound to happen after the murder of Indira Gandhi.
I was trying to educate myself about what happened in 1984 and came across Mai's blog. Reading her account as well as others brought the horror of what transpired in 1984 to life.
I do not know if Mai and Suni were lucky in that they hailed from Canada and left India soon afterwards. The Indian Sikhs had to pick up the pieces of their lives after suffering the losses of their loved ones and facing economic hardship. As well as fighting for justice within a system that was unsympathetic towards their plight.
Justice, however late, is the only solace that we can offer them and I sincerely hope that the Sikhs do receive it.