Coping with the murderous attack on Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, sister and filmmaker Kavita Lankesh remembers her childhood days with Gauri. In an interview with Being You, Kavita who not only lost her sister but her best friend spoke about their growing up tales. Gauri who was shot dead at the doorsteps of her house in Bangalore on September 5 was always a person of ethics, said Kavita.
“Gauri and I were three years apart, and very different people. Growing up, we were not financially well off. We never got treats outside of special occasions like birthdays. Once I stole three chocolates for Gauri, our younger brother, and myself, and was feeling rather pleased with myself. I told Gauri, asked her not to tell anyone, and minutes later, she kicked up a fuss and I got beaten by our mother. I had to return them to the shopkeeper and was very humiliated. Even back then, Gauri was a person of ethics.”
Gauri who always considered books as her first friend was inspired by her father to become a Journalist. She became the editor of Lankesh Patrika after the death of her father P Lankesh. Kavita said, Gauri was just like her father and respected him the most. She even refused to sit on her father’s chair in the office after taking up charge as the editor. “Gauri’s was daddy’s girl. Even at the paper’s office after he died, she refused to sit in his chair out of reverence. Books were her best friend through our childhood and our father used to encourage it. It was her ex-husband and our father who influenced her to become a journalist.”
Kavita further added that both of them were very different from each other but Gauri being a soft-spoken person, everyone loved her in the family and outside. Gauri always had a different approach to everything but amid all that, they used to enjoy time together. At home, she always believed that all religions must be celebrated and everyone should know the importance of each festival. “Growing up, we had our differences, but she was soft-spoken and made friends wherever she went. Young people used to love her and often confided in her. As an adult, she always had a different way of approaching things. At our house, I would celebrate Christmas, our brother would host the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, and Gauri was in charge of Eid. One year, she organized a Bakrid party and invited someone to talk of the importance of the festival. She was convinced kids needed to imbibe all religions and know the importance of these festivals.”
The death of Gauri came as a shock to Kavita and the entire nation. Outrage sparked across the country, vigils and protests were held through the week to condemn the attack. Kavita for once thought if she could have advised her sister to be more careful and alert, she might have not seen this day but silencing voice is never the solution. Kavita was heartened to see the enormous support that had gathered for Gauri Lankesh. “The day she was shot, I got a call saying my sister had fallen. I thought it might have been on her leg or something. I never imagined she would die. We used to be very open about our affection for each other. Sometimes I ask myself if I should have told her to be careful a bit more, be more diplomatic maybe. But maybe I would have been curbing her? Silencing her? I didn’t realise the ‘I am Gauri’ campaign would lead to thousands of other Gauris around the world. There are so many speaking out today,” said Kavita.
Urging people to keep the voices alive against the injustice, she said revolution cannot be silenced. “My only advice to haters is this. If you want to fight and disagree, do it in public. Don’t be faceless. Killing a lady alone in her house at night is not bravery. It isn’t courage. It’s cowardice. And to everyone else, keep the voice alive. There should be lakhs of Gauris arising. They shouldn’t know who to target. After all, a revolution cannot be silenced.”