Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She's Beautiful

Just yesterday morning, a family friend called to invite me to attend a meeting with Martin Luther King III at the Gandhi-King Plaza of the India International Centre.  I'd hoped to make it in time for the 8:50 tryst, but the morning routine expanded in unforeseen ways, so I couldn't get across town in time.  The loss was mine, as also was the lost opportunity of seeing Herbie Hancock, George Duke and others at Siri Fort Auditorium.

My mind went back 40 years --- a slowly fading memory, but one that still somehow clings on --- to when  Coretta Scott King had come to India (1969, within a year of her husband's assassination) to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding.

Mrs Gandhi's Speech on the occasion.

It perhaps was after the award ceremony, it perhaps was at the Teen Murti Memorial (I cannot be sure for I was Very Young, not yet 5).   There were crowds milling around Mrs King, the noisy hubbub of people wanting to get closer to the dignitaries.   My mother hoisted me up, almost onto her shoulders for me to catch a glimpse.  I did.  And I said the only thing one could say on seeing her:  "She's beautiful!"    And hardly had these words escaped my lips, there was a momentary silence,  the silence of hundreds of minds acknowledging the simple truth.

This is how she looked: Coretta Scott King