In a government school classroom in Delhi, young Indira Thapa is set an unusual assignment by her favourite teacher: to write an essay around her name. Who was Indira Priyadarshini, the person after whom her grandfather named her? And why her? What is her legacy as India’s first—and only—woman prime minister?
Over the course of a long, hot summer and a curious friendship with an artist who is working on a biography of Mrs Gandhi, young Indira gets tangled up in the life and times of her memorable namesake. Sometimes by design and sometimes by accident, story after story comes alive — about a childhood spent in Allahabad growing the Vanar Sena, of a youthful romance with the charming Feroze Gandhi, of stints in jail and elephant rides through pouring rain, of a magnificent audacity that catapulted India onto the international stage, and of the final, tragic end that ripped apart the fabric of the nation.
Real and imagined worlds, the past and present, text and image all entwine as Indira walks us through the most formative decades of political life of India.