At the start of the battle in Osmanabad, God brought the biggest reward. He introduced me to a girl who would stand by me and never stop loving me in spite of the time and attention she deserved which I was not able to give her. Preeti became my wife.
Then Dheeraj arrived. While in the International School in Laos, barely twelve years old, he walked into the Principal's office to complain to the six foot American about racial discrimination in his class. I asked him how many other students went with him. "There were many of us but when I went inside the Principal's office and looked back there was only one other with me," he replied. God had given me his second reward. That day I resolved once more never to look back for support - just to do the right thing. It was also the obvious way to survival in a bad environment.
Preeti saw her husband isolated in official functions and ultimately decided to boycott them. Dheeraj grew up seeing his father returning home pensive and pre-occupied, engaged in conflict and forever answering "show cause notices" and enquires.
If you ask her what was the worst time she would refer to the posting as Bombay, Collector, when threatening calls from the land mafia shook her life and she never let the child out of sight. She bore this with courage and in silence. I knew she was braver than me. She had her father's genes - he was a general.
But good friends, solid as rock, and dedicated journalists and well wishers brought great joy and laughter into our lives wherever we were transferred. In every crisis they opened their arms to us. When my promotion was denied and I took the government to court, a famous Nagpur lawyer argued my case for three days without charging a penny. People were surprised to see us so happy and fun loving in spite of the tensions at work.
It taught us that Indians were basically good, honest people. Power had been monopolized by the wrong Indian.
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