With Jyoti Basu's passing away the end of an era has come. For me he was someone who truly symbolized the lal salaam through his vision and made the ideals of the movement feel believable to the masses. The tears I saw in the eyes of so many mourners, as the news of his death became know to the nation, showed how much his governance had effected his people and how much his presence would be missed as the rudder to his party.
In the montage of photographs that paid tribute to this dignified leader was one where a little boy (perhaps a relative), hugged him tightly round the neck; and in the process slightly pushed his spectacles askew. In that brief moment you catch the sheer joy of delight that lit up Jyoti Basu's eyes, though all else remained quietly passive, as he sat embraced in this circle of love.
I wish that his party had had the courage to allow him to have been the Prime Minister, when the opportunity was offered to him. I feel certain that this quiet dignified politician would have held his own; and would have given to the nation a path of possibilities that would have been workable to all and where the space for other voices would have been entertained with respect.
For many of my generation a small red flag will always flutter within our social conscience, and it has been stalwarts like Jyoti Basu that have kept that flag firmly pegged within our hearts all these years.
Today sir, this flag inside my heart flies at half mast for you.