YESTERDAY WAS GANDHI JAYANTI
Dharasana. Bardoli. Chauri- Chaura. Noakhali. Dandi.
I turn the yellowing pages, the leaves falling out of the binding at places, pages fragile and tear at touch. A word cloud rushes, overwhelms.
How did he do it? A simple man, not particularly charismatic unless you call that toothy smile charismatic, tone high pitched and insistence on frugality, how did he hold a country, so many diverse interests, tempers and egos together and charge it to seek the freedom that was rightly its? A sharp negotiator, a great reader of humans, tactful when he wished to be, blunt at times, only too human with his temper.
Such a simple path, “No, you can’t do this.”
Satyagrahis, people like you and I, filled up the jails at his call. Even if their lands were forfeited, jobs lost, years in their lives lost.
The best minds in the country prone to “ jailitis”, a horrible affliction where even the calmest and most placid of men flared up or turned irritable at a whim.
So many that the jails were overfull, so many that had to be divided up into three categories, class A, B, C.
And the elite A class prisoners gladly opted for the worst, C class food.
How did he do it? Tell an entire mass of people, to get up and go for what was rightly theirs. Without violence or untruth.
Who knew that the best way to stop riots was not tear gas and the police, but going out on the streets and lending a patient ear, a big heart.
Negotiating calmly with the British, empire builders and statesmen, on his terms. Even if it meant attending the Round table conference dressed in the poor man’s garb, as equals, on his terms.
How did he do it?
I guess we shall never know.
The strangest feeling in my throat. I guess I’ve been over-reading.
A salute to the Mahatma, on his 138th birthday.