Mr. Ajmal Jami liked Rajiv Gandhi the very first time he met him. He thought the young Indian Prime Minister came off as an all round good guy. At one point, Rajiv Gandhi even grabbed the veteran cameraperson’s arm when Mr. Jami, trying to film the PM while walking backwards with his video camera, tripped and almost fell.
Mr. Jami also remembers other things. He remembers rushing to the site where Rajiv Gandhi was blown to bits by a suicide bomber some years later. He remembers the piece of red carpet that had been cut out to take away the remains of the man who in another time maybe could’ve been his buddy. He also remembers almost stepping onto a disembodied arm whose fingernails were painted bright red. He remembers how it had just lain there.
Took me back to ‘Stiff’, a collection of dark but humorous essays I’d once read about the contributions of cadavers to science. I remember the author, Mary Roach, describing a visit to a lab where plastic surgery students would practice their skills. Each student would be given the head of a cadaver to practice a number of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures on. Each was also given one pair of cadaver hands that were severed a little above the wrist. The author described how one particular student’s ‘hands’ had beautiful shapely fingers whose nails were painted bright red. This bit of personality startled the student who touched the hands and wondered about the body - the person - they once used to be attached to.