Age is like a creeping tiger crawling upon a sleeping prey. French poet Lamartine once cried: “O’ time. Arrest your flight, nobody can circumvent the inevitability of ageing.” Some old memories persist in spite of the passage of time. Over 45 years back, I was ADC to the Governor of Haryana, BN Chakravarty, a distinguished ICS officer. I learnt a lot about life during this assignment and met a large number of people from all walks of life and saw the working of the government from close quarters. Some contacts I made proved useful when I worked in the Intelligence Bureau.
Pakistan PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto stopped for some time at the Chandigarh airport on the way to Shimla for a conference with India Gandhi, the then PM. Chakravarty was the Permanent Representative to the UN. Bhutto recognised him and talked about old times, and also invited him to Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto greeted Chakravarty with an adaab.
Margaret Thatcher, a young politician of Britain, visited Chandigarh and stayed at Haryana Raj Bhavan. She later became the PM of Britain. The Governor asked me to show her around Chandigarh. I later took her for a walk at the Sukhna Lake. She said the place was a painter’s delight. I still have photographs of her at the lake.
Whenever Indira Gandhi came to Chandigarh, she stayed at Haryana Raj Bhavan. She and Chakravarty were close friends. When he was the High Commissioner in London, she stayed with the Chakravarty family. Once after lunch, she put her hand around Mrs Chakravarty and said the lunch was excellent and all dishes were of her choice. Mrs Chakravarty patted Indira and said she was a good girl. Indira exulted, saying she had made her day as she was ‘fed up with these oldies calling me ma’am-ma’am. They make me feel I am 200 years old!’ Then they laughed.
Mother Teresa, who stayed at Raj Bhavan, was an epitome of peace. She spoke very softly and there was an aura of spirituality around her.
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw also stayed with us, and was full of life. I saw him off at the airport. We conversed in Punjabi. He was very friendly. I had seen his photos in a magazine dancing with an actress. I mentioned it to him and he said he loved dancing.
After my tenure, I was posted as a district SP. Before I left, the Governor told me that as a cop I should know what was happening on ground zero, and that a cop should have substance with style and should be proper in his dealing with the public.
Chakravarty expired when he was on a private visit to Kolkata. His body was brought to Haryana. I was called to look after Mrs Chakravarty.
After some days, I received a call from his son from New York. He told me that the Governor had left his personal revolver for me. He sent me the relevant portion of the will. The revolver is still with me.
Those were different times, and different people.
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