The chirping of the birds and the plaintive call of the Koel woke him up. “Ha, my friend, you have come at your usual time,” muttered Gangadhar to himself. He stretched luxuriously, looked at the bedside clock and smiled, “Yes, on time, it is seven am.”
He made an attempt to get up, then suddenly sank back on to his bed and, with a sigh of happiness, snuggled back among the sheets. “I don’t have to get up as usual. What a relief!” and his mind went back to the events of the last few days.
Gangadhar, or ‘Ganga’ as he was popularly known, had just relinquished his position as Chief Minister of one of the states in Southern India. He had been a very popular leader and both the party men and the general public were very upset and not inclined to let him go. But he was adamant, and argued, “I am now seventy five and, as per the resolution passed in the assembly, any politician reaching this age should voluntarily resign their position. After piloting this Bill myself, how can you expect to make an exception for me?” There was no possible reply to this and so, after nominating his successor, he had bowed out gracefully while the whole state mourned his departure. “Ah well, I have no regrets,” he mused and, turning round, he gazed affectionately at the person sleeping by his side. “I have never seen her sleep so peacefully,” he thought. “Poor Kay, she must have died a thousand deaths during my political career.”
Kay, or ‘Kaveri’, who he had met while they were living in England, had been his wife for forty years. She had been sent to England as a war widow, at the age of twenty, to get over the trauma of losing her first husband, a pilot officer in the Royal Indian Air Force who was reported missing during a mission over Burma. After a brief courtship, they had married and decided to make England their home, but fate intervened. At the behest of his father, who was a political activist, they returned to India and he had been slowly sucked into the vortex of political life. After many tribulations and much intrigue, he had become the leader of his party. Kay, who came from a completely different background and upbringing, had stood by him through all his ups and downs and had borne him three children, two boys and a girl.