Sunday, October 02, 2011

My 3 encounters with Mahatma Gandhi

The first time I heard about Gandhi was when I was about 5/6 year old, when I heard a female cousin of mine singing a song. Originally in one of our NE dialects, the song, roughly translated, goes like this:

Bapu Raja Gandhi Raja, is a big man
Gandhi has built a road, my dear friend
Now it’s much easier/ for us to fetch water.

As you have guessed, the singer (in this case my cousin) lived in a village where there were no running water taps and the nearest tubewell was quite a distance. To build a road, therefore, is truly something very nice of a Gandhi raja. However, till this day, I am not sure which of the Gandhis really had this road built. But the use of words such as 'Bapu' and 'Raja'/ ‘king’, and considering Rajeev Gandhi was never a popular guy in NE region, makes me believe that it was Mahatma Gandhi.

My second introduction to Gandhi happened in a government-run primary school. It was a school where 3 of my elder siblings went and I was often sent with them, tagged by my mother who thought, that was the best way to handle us.

As a non-student, I was free to roam around and sit into any class (very generous of the teachers) and this is how, one day, I heard a teacher in the 1st standard, reciting a very interesting poem:

Gandhi muni, Gandhi muni (muni=sage)
He likes daal vada/he likes to read chhara(vada =a snack, chhara=poem)

(A few months later I had learnt that the teacher had lost his mental balance and that most of the rhymes were self-composed on which the school had put a disclaimer. But I can't deny, I liked the poem! And honestly speaking, I think it would have been quite Gandhian to like both vada and a poem :)

But my most memorable introduction to Gandhi happened when I was in class 10 and went to visit an old relative who lived in a remote village. Election had just been over and I asked my relative if he too had boycotted the poll, a call given by a militant group. ‘No way,’ he said loudly, I have voted for the man with the Gandhi topi (cap).

And that would be which party? I asked.

‘I don’t know. Maybe, Congress’.

But how can you vote for someone without even knowing him?
“Well, he wore a Gandhi topi’.

And right there, right then, I learnt 3 things: 1) Gandhi and his philosophy lived on even in the remotest of villages of India where Gandhi never reached. 2) A hand spun cotton cap could be a big symbol of honesty and compassion because it symbolized a man who epitomized these virtues. And 3rd, it is this belief that continues to be exploited and betrayed by hundreds of politicians who are neither honest, nor compassionate.

Bapu, Sir Gandhi, wish you never wore a cap i!

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Anonymous said...

Those who reap what they did not sow always go about it the wrong way, don't they. We have those too, people who hold a whole nation at ransom because they claim they fought the war of liberation. Loved how you weaved the story together. Always truly inspired Stella.

Anonymous said...

Those who reap what they did not sow always go about it the wrong way dont they. We also have those in Zimbabwe, holding a whole nation at ransom because they say they fought the war of liberation yet some of them were sellouts for the colonialists and others were not even there when the war was fought. I like the way you wove everything together. Great piece.

stella's musings said...

Thank you my lovely reader,one who always is so kind and thoughtful! I would sooo love to hear your stories of Zimbabwe's good men and women of the past and the present. It would be a fantastic journey through the lovely country!

Rhoda Alex said...

brilliantly written, simple yet strong emotions

tinku said...

and that is the sole reason, i believe, for the anna hazare movement to pick up. and how they are disappearing into oblivion!

Marshia said...


Marshia said...