IT was a Wednesday afternoon. A news came that our Prime Minister was shot dead in the morning. But I was very happy. It meant some more days of holidays for me. I was in class II. My exams were to start a week later and I was not prepared. I was elated when my class teacher announced that the school would be closed till Saturday. But as the school got over I sensed something bad had happened. One of our servants had been sent to pick me up. "Noooo, I want to go with my friends in the school van," I sulked. He grabbed me forcibly and put me in the car, with the windows pulled over. He drove the car taking it through narrow lanes of Lucknow avoiding the main roads. Something really serious had happened. I found my father at home. Unusual, as he doesn't return from his shop until 10 pm. I found him haggling over the phone with my Uncle, a Commanding Officer with Signals. "Please Veerji, we want your help. I'll be grateful to you till I'm alive. There is not a single Sikh family around and we are feeling very scared." He was asking for some army jawans to be posted at our house. "Ok I'll try my best," the Uncle, assured. Sometime after, a call came from my maternal grandmother's home. Apparently her son had narrowly escaped a bunch of youngsters, who were grabbing all Sardars on scooters, cars or wherever they found, by their hair. Hundreds of Sardars were pulled out from the narrow lanes of Gumti area and set to fire in front of their shrieking women and yelling kids TYRES were put around them till their waist and lit with petrol. They were the best means as it is impossible to take one's body out of burning tyres. At around 8 pm my Uncle arrived with four armed jawans in a one tonner. Along came my Bua and two cousins. Another Sikh family who was residing some distance was called. I was enjoying the camaraderie, relieved from the tension of exams and with a few holidays at hand. My Father and Uncles kept glued to the television all night phoning relatives near and far enquiring about their well being. The four guards kept a watch all night. A news came from one of our customers in Allahabad, also a Sikh, whose chemist shop was gutted. On Thursday morning I was awakened by the shrieks of my mom and aunts. They were glued to the window facing the railway line in front of our house. I also peeped through the window. Apparently a train had been stopped by a mob. A turbaned army jawan was forcefully dragged from the train. His turban was kicked off. The mob started pelting him. My mom and aunts started screaming - "Unno bachao, o mar jayega, Hey Waheguru." Suddenly the train started moving. He ran after the train with the mob following him. He grabbed the handle of a coach and got on. The mob was left behind. In nearby Kanpur the situation was worse. Hundreds of Sardars were pulled out from the narrow lanes of Gumti area and set to fire in front of their shrieking women and yelling kids. Two thousand Sikhs were butchered in three days. "When a mighty tree falls, the earth is bound to shake" - came the famous explanation from Rajiv Gandhi.