This day, that age

It was 31st October 1984 and we were busy planning for the talent day at our college ( A M Jain college Meenambakkam, Chennai).  One of the students who had brought a pocket transistor (TV itself was a rarity those days what to talk about computers, internet, mobile, ipad etc!!!) to listen to the commentary of the India-Pakistan One day match at Sialkot (which was subsequently called off) suddenly burst into the scene and said “PM Indira Gandhi has been shot”.  There was no other news or updates for the next hour or so.

There was immediate chaos, understandably and our immediate concern, being students, was about the talent day for which hectic preparations were underway.  But our Principal Shri G Balasubramanyam, being a person with lots of responsibility, had our safety in mind and quickly declared a holiday.  More importantly, he asked all of us to leave immediately rather than loiter around the campus as most would do on a holiday.

For those who do not know the location of our college, it is adjoining the tracks between Pazhavanthangal and Meenambakkam stations (closer to the latte) and suburban trains used to be the life blood for all the students.  I was no exception although I had attempted using the bus route as well.  None of my friends were nearby but I took the Principal’s advice and boarded the next train to Guindy station.  By then, the news had spread far and wide and the trains were fully crowded.  My hopes of making it home were quickly dashed when the train stopped a few metres after it started and it looked like it will be there for some more time to come.

(I tried to find an actual photo of the Chennai streets on that day but could not find one.  Hence used an available photograph.  If you find certain elements that are not matching the date, please ignore)

Not wanting to take chance waiting for the train situation to improve, I jumped down and made it to the GST road.  I was hopeful of catching a bus but that too was not to be.  There were some instances of stone throwing at the buses by goondas and buses were off the roads.  A few autos that were brave to venture were charging exorbitant rates (that doesn’t change, does it?) and I did not have that kind of money in my pockets.

So I started walking down the 16+ kms back home with stretches covered by taking a lift from a scooter.  The arterial roads were empty of vehicles but pedestrians like me were trying to make their way back home.  Although the shops en route were closed, I did not see much evidence of destruction of property until I turned into Eldams road in Teynampet where I saw the shops of Pawnbrokers being broken by anti-social elements and ransacked.

I stopped at a friend’s house to make a call to my people to inform them that I was fine and will be back soon.  It was only a matter of time before I trekked the entire way.

For the next few days, I was glued to the TV as was the nation.

An unforgettable day, indeed!!



  1. Ram said,

    October 31, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I happened to be in Chennai on that day too! My aunt passed away on the same day at the Devaki hospital. There was so much of chaos all around. I don’t even remember how I got from Mambalam to Triplicane that day. Which makes me relate to the kids of today. Their concern is limited as they have their parents to worry !!

  2. Ramesh P R said,

    October 31, 2012 at 4:48 am

    I was doing my III Year BA at Vivekananda college and also heard the news at around 11-11.30 but was fortunate to get in to 12G, as we were staying at KK Nagar that time. Bus didnt stop anywhere else and reached KK Nagar depot. People in the area where we resided were not aware of the news and I broke the news there.
    An unforettable day for me too!
    Ramesh P R

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