Gandhi and his followers, at Dandi, Gujarat, 1930
By Aren D’mello Noronha (10 years old, student of Std. v at St. Britto’s, Mapusa
Goa Writers Reflect on the Great One
Gandhi Jayanti and the International Day of Non-Violence was celebrated on Oct. 2, marking 144 years since the birth of Matahma Gandhi. To commemorate the day, we asked members of the Goa Writers Group to share their reflections and memories on the man, his times and what his legacy means for us today.
in their would
to burn who want
inner temple, london
taste with any
habit about of
away to stay
from all best
no Mahatma now
– Salil Chaturvedi
Five of us were editing PTI despatches at the National Standard in Bombay when news of the Mahatma’s assassination came through. We were all shocked, but it was Shankar, our lone Communist colleague, who burst into tears. I said, “Shankar, just yesterday you were villifying him, calling him a bastard!” Still weeping bitterly, Shankar said, “I have just lost my father.” That night, in his address to the nation, a grieving Prime Minister Nehru summed up the mood of the nation when he said, “The light has gone out of our lives.” The light had indeed gone out, but it flickered back to life because, for so many of us, Gandhiji’s message is timeless.
Photo Credit: Joel D’souza
The day after the assassination, on the way home from work I got off a bus in Byculla to see a small crowd beating two young cyclists at the junction of Mohamed Ali and Nesbit Roads. The group was moving slowly towards Mazagon, but stopping every now and then to deliver some more cuffs and blows. I went up to one of the leaders and asked what was happening.
“These are the hoodlums that killed our Gandhiji,” he said. “They belong to the same caste as the assassin Godse.”
“But they are here in Bombay,” I said. “They had no part in what Godse did.”
At this, one of the two victims spoke up. “We are accepting the beating,” he said. “At least, this is our way of making some atonement for the killing.”
As I left, it seemed to me that the two victims had absorbed and internalized the Mahatma’s message far better than the men who were keen on avenging his death.
– Victor Rangel-Ribeiro
– José Lourenço
I remember laughing out loud when as a college student I had read somewhere that Gandhiji’s wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth had offended her mother Queen Mary who mistook the crocheted piece made from yarn spun by him to be a loin cloth! Well, some of Mahatma Gandhi’s other actions too have drawn annoyance, even resentment, rightly or wrongly. As for me, Gandhiji was a great soul, a Mahatma, but he was not perfect. He had his foibles, he made mistakes; but accentuating these rather than his incredibly courageous fights against injustice all his life, would be like spurning the radiant beauty of the moon and instead choosing to focus on her spots.
So when I think of Gandhiji, I remember that when he faced beatings unflinchingly in South Africa for protesting against racially discriminating laws, he was just in his early twenties. I remember how when he threw himself into the freedom movement he swept the whole nation along with the force of a tidal wave. And I marvel at how till today he continues to inspire people of all ages and all nationalities from the Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai to the President of the United States.
– Veena Patwardhan
Tourists here ironically sport the Gandhian look: expose skin and wear cheap chappals.
If Gandhi was alive, he might have encouraged us to hawk Indian-made maal on the pavements of enemy countries. Take-over non-violently, effectively.
Our politicians wouldn’t have known how to deal with his honesty and simple living.
MKG would have convinced the aam junta to yawn, stretch and participate literally and figuratively to clean up the country, lead by example.
Wherever you are, Bapu, please do something for India. Soon.
– Sheela Jaywant
To me, Mahatma Gandhi has been the pivot of the country’s chakra. It is his drive and ambition for freedom of humanity that has always driven me to stand up for rights of people and as I have grown older, to help students to recognize this. Where there is no hope, there is no life.
My grandmother fought for Gandhi’s Swadeshi Movement, talking to thousands of women, empowering them. I feel her presence whenever I give up on a cause. I would like to close with a line from one of my favourite poems by Tagore.
“Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”
– Anita Pinto