As the Nation celebrates Children’s Day I remember with respect the VIP with a rose. Yes, a very special person in our hearts even today Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Five decades ago, in the early sixties Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister spent a few days at Shillong, during his tour of the North East. Assam was then one big state and Shillong the most beautiful hill station, was the capital.
Raj Bhavan the Governor’s residence overlooking the Wards lake was set in lush green sylvan surroundings. This was just the place for a quiet sojourn, for a busy Prime Minister who had “miles to go.”
The sojourn over, it was time for Prime Minister was to depart. My father was given the responsibility to see off the VIP at the helipad in Upper Shillong.
Father handled the details for the VIP’s departure.
Just as he readied to get into the black Humber to reach the Helipad, his six year old daughter ran towards him. Before he could blink his eyelid the little one jumped into the car and smiled saying, “I am coming with you.”
An exasperated father in a hurry agreed and allowed his daughter to accompany him to the helipad. The car sped to reach the helipad before the VIP arrived.
At the helipad father busied himself with last minute instructions and awaited the arrival of the Prime Minister. His daughter stood beside him overawed by the sight of the helicopter.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru arrived, impeccable in his white achkan and jacket.
The rotors of the helicopter started and he was walking towards the chopper. The girl left her father’s side and ran towards the chopper.
“I want to sit in the helicopter, I want to sit in the helicopter,” she cried.
Father was most embarrassed and ran to pick up his daughter .
Nehru turned around even as father was trying hard to control her. He walked towards the crying child .
He patted her curly mop of hair and asked her, her name.
She stopped crying and looked at him. She rubbed her eyes, wiped her stuffy nose with the back of her hand and whispered “Vijaylakshmi.”
Nehruji kissed her on her cheek and smiled. “My sister’s name too is Vijaylakshmi, it’s a beautiful name.”
Then he took out the rosebud from his button hole and gave it to the little girl. She smiled back as she took it and said “thank you.”
The helicopter was forgotten, she looked at the rosebud and at Panditji. She held the rosebud tightly and waved as he got into the helicopter. He waved back. Father kept this incident alive by narrating it to one and all.
Even today, I relive that memorable moment with “Chacha Nehru.”
It was truly special. There was no barricade, no security hassles, no fuss to reach the VIP. As I look back I remember the person who truly loved children and understood them.
Our children today remember Chacha Nehru when Children’s Day is celebrated. Chacha Nehru celebrated Children’s Day everyday.