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Chapter 29
Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leaveeverything they've known for a great unknown beyond thehorizon? Why climb this Mount Everest of formalities thatmakes you feel like a beggar? Why enter this jungle offoreignness where everything is new, strange and difficult?
The answer is the same the world over: people move in thehope of a better life.
The mid-1970s were troubled times in India. I gathered thatfrom the deep furrows that appeared on Father's foreheadwhen he read the papers. Or from snippets of conversationthat I caught between him and Mother and Mamaji andothers. It's not that I didn't understand the drift of what theysaid – it's that I wasn't interested. The orang-utans were aseager for chapattis as ever; the monkeys never asked after thenews from Delhi; the rhinos and goats continued to live inpeace; the birds twittered; the clouds carried rain; the sun washot; the earth breathed; God was – there was no Emergencyin my world.
Mrs. Gandhi finally got the best of Father. In February 1976,the Tamil Nadu government was brought down by Delhi. Ithad been one of Mrs. Gandhi's most vocal critics. The takeoverwas smoothly enforced – Chief Minister Karunanidhi's ministryvanished quietly into "resignation" or house arrest – and whatdoes the fall of one local government matter when the wholecountry's Constitution has been suspended these last eightmonths? But it was to Father the crowning touch in Mrs.
Gandhi's dictatorial takeover of the nation. The camel at thezoo was unfazed, but that straw broke Father's back.
He shouted, "Soon she'll come down to our zoo and tell usthat her jails are full, she needs more space. Could we putDesai with the lions?"Morarji Desai was an opposition politician. No friend of Mrs.
Gandhi's. It makes me sad, my father's ceaseless worrying. Mrs.
Gandhi could have personally bombed the zoo, it would havebeen fine with me if Father had been gay about it. I wish hehadn't fretted so much. It's hard on a so............
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