A large audience at the Nehru Centre in London listened in rapt attention as the last day of Mahatma Gandhi was recreated in a powerful radio docu-drama that charted the day right from the morning until the time he was shot dead by Nathuram Godse.
Several people commented later that Wednesday's show brought to life several small and big details of that fateful day. It was written and directed by Vijay Rana, an Indian-origin journalist who formerly worked for the BBC Hindi Service in London.
Recreating the event, Rana said the day was perhaps the most dramatic in the life of newly independent India. The post-partition communal violence was still continuing in many parts of India. Many princely states were yet to join the new Indian Union.
The Constituent Assembly was still deliberating on the new constitution. Pakistani troops were present in Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian Army was fighting them. And Gandhi himself was unhappy with the conduct of India's new Congress rulers.
Rana said: "Gandhi's day begins at 3:30 am, followed by his morning meeting. He then gives final touches to a new draft constitution for the Congress party. He proposes that Congress should renounce power and dedicate itself to the service of the poor. And finally he met Sardar Patel asking him to sort out his differences with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru."
The play also described how Gandhi's killers, hiding at the Old Delhi Railway Station, made final preparations to execute their assassination plot. Gandhi was shot dead by Godse, while he was on way to his evening prayer meeting. The day ended with Nehru's moving announcement to the nation, "The light has gone out of our life". Nehru also hoped that in the coming years "that light will give solace to innumerable hearts".
In the second part of the evening marking the fateful day, Rana presented his book, "Mahatma Gandhi: Images and Ideas for Non-Violence". The book has photographs of Gandhi's statues, murals, graffiti, wall paintings, posters and puppets from all over the world demonstrating how his images are being used to enhance peace and non-violence.