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Gabriel García Márquez's love child named after Indira Gandhi?

The affair happened even as he was married to Mercedes Barcha Pardo

marquez indira A collage showing Gabriel García Márquez (AP) and Indira Gandhi (Twitter handle of Congress)

Gabriel García Márquez is considered to be more than just another literary icon. The Colombian-born Nobel laureate was instrumental in launching a new era in Latin American literature. At the time of his death at the age of 87 in 2014, Márquez's breakout novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, first published in 1967, had sold over 25 million copies.

One of his most popular quotes appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in May 1983. The quote—“Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life”—is, arguably, back in focus after a Colombian media outlet reported on Sunday that Márquez had a daughter from an affair with a Mexican writer, Susana Cato, in the early 1990s, when he was over 60 years of age.

Cato and Márquez named her Indira. Indira uses her mother's surname and is believed to be 31 years old. Associated Press reported she is a documentary producer in Mexico City.

The affair happened even as Márquez was married to Mercedes Barcha Pardo. Mercedes and Márquez married in 1956 and remained together until his death; she died in 2020. The couple also had two sons.

According to reports, Susana Cato was the granddaughter of an Iraqi immigrant and was also a student of Márquez. She worked with Márquez on two movie scripts and also interviewed him for a 1996 magazine story, Associated Press reported.

Two relatives of Márquez confirmed the report of a love child to Associated Press.

“Shani García Márquez, one of the writer’s nieces, told the AP that she had known for years about her cousin Indira, but had not mentioned her to the media because her parents always asked her to be discrete about her uncle’s personal life. Gabriel Eligio Torres García, who is also a nephew of the Colombian writer, said he has been in touch with Indira Cato through social media, though he has never met her in person,” Associated Press reported. The nephew claimed Márquez's sons also knew about Indira.

The Indira Gandhi connection

The El Universal report noted Márquez's daughter was named in honour of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was an admirer of the novelist.

Retired Indian diplomat Rengaraj Viswanathan, who is an expert on Latin America, wrote on Facebook that Indira Gandhi was the “first” world leader to congratulate Márquez on winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.

Viswanathan wrote on Facebook, “When Mrs Gandhi met Fidel Castro in Moscow during the funeral of [Soviet leader Leonid] Breshnev, she told Fidel to bring his friend Márquez to India during the Non-Aligned Summit meeting... Gabo [Márquez] had come to India in the official plane of Fidel Castro for the Non-Aligned Summit in 1983. Gabo stayed in the aircraft while Castro was being received ceremoniously in the tarmac. Mrs Gandhi climbed up the aircraft ladder to greet Gabo inside the plane. Gabo stayed for three days in Delhi. Mrs Gandhi had met Gabo and extended a special invite to make another longer visit across India. Gabo commented that Indira Gandhi looked like the women of Aracataca, his Colombian birth place, known as Macondo in his novels.”

However, he decided against visiting India after Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984. The El Universal report noted, “García Márquez was disconsolate with that news [of the assassination], but the name of Indira prevailed in his memory, like a name full of light and courage.”

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