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vaey Gintrot She was the dauchter of an untouchable sho was adonted by Haheta Tar Clk 16 IBY wie BE Gandhi as a step vouards the eradicction of untouchability an India.) One day at © prayer seoting WandhiJi told his asuran inaates that ae hed decided to Keep a Karijan farily (untouchable) in the Achras and Af anyone had any objections to that they chould leave the ashres and g0 avay. No ono believed thot @ Herijan would cone to stay there so they all consented to Genchiji's exyestaent. Gandhisi thon talked about t to ‘Taseterbape wie had doen wording with the untoucbables at the tise, My father waz a tascher in Bosbey at the tine and Tusckertape Knew hia 20 when As cae to Boxbay he syoke to uy father about Gandhijis experiaent and sent hin to meet GendsiJ4 at Koehrad ashras af niles avay fron Ahnedstad, I wae just about siz sonthe old then. We ell cave to the ashres and at the tiae we all knew Gendhiji as Gendni Sohfd ang beccuse we led never seen hin uy father thought that & Sahib hes to bea grest aan like © srines. He asked anny people for Girections and eventually we resehed the sohras and inside Gendijits hut. fut ve thought that this aust be som secretary or soseone working for Uandid Schib so ay father asved Gangniji waere Gandht Sahib Lived end how Ne could neet hin, Gandhiji agtled and knew at once thet these aust de the peozle sent by Thsexertepe froa Bosbey and he asked ay father. "are you Hoghathat frox Boabay?" My rather replied "Yes", Thou Gandhi asked bin to sit and anke the Zeuily coafortasle end told him that todey you are our guest and you will dine with uo, At the tine Gandhi vas carrying out exzertacnte with diet and so he fortede any salt 48 the food. A1L the vegetables vere just boiled in water, That day, ay father said, that they had cocked boiled bitter gourd. Hy father at first said that ke vould teke the fastly out to dianer but Geadhd insiated fond so we hed ell to stay there and est, Maturslly none Liked the bitter sourd as it vas cocked tut sows how everybody senaged to put &t doun, After the weal vse over iy father as.e4 Gandaiji 4? ho could be ohova where the tep vas co that he could esh the plates, go Gendhiji hailed 1 | "Rana!" calling the short fora of the naze of Bie third son Raadas Gandhd Ram in a city Like Boubay 4e the generel nase used for Doaestic servants So ay father thought that Rana was a servent in GsndhiJits housshold. At first ay father insisted that he would wash the vessel hisself but Gandhiji inodsted that Raa would do it so ay father relented end when Rave took the dishes sy father followed aia and at the tap he asked Rana how snony sons dia Gandhi ji have end where were they at vreseat. Race replied that he vas one of the cons. My father vas shocked and seid thet he vould not like © great aon to be washing bic veesele but Rana insisted that he was the guost of the Kousehold and that at was Bace!e ae y to do the work of the guest. After the disues were done ay fataer wanted to drink water and he nas taken into the kitchen where Kasturba (lirs caadhi) ‘and another feusle relative called Santokbon xere eitving, Arter they nad nanded Lis the glass of mater and ay father had drunk it they entered inte @ conversation duriag tis course of which Santekben asked hin ils ceste and wien they learnt that he was an untouchstle they felt polluted and to cleease the:selves they sustained tron food for soxe days. Sonodsys after that ns returned and later went back to the esiras. hie Nes when Uendhiji broscied the subject of adopting we aad told ay father ebout it. But ay tether said that ae could not think of doing euch a thing as wae the only ob: 2 they ned. But Gandhigi insisted, explained to hin the reasou end after auch persuasion ay father agreed. andhija said he would adopt ae legsliy. We ali then Lived in the ashras for some Fino after thet and uy aother and Kasturba thereafter got aloag very well and did nost of the iiteuen vork together. After the episode of the first visit Gondhi Ji had once sgain tole everyone that anyone sho could not toletate his views shold Live eleesmere wiion included aie wife Kesturta also, But they 211 veered tovarde nis ney of thinking and accepted us es sosbere of the large fesily of the achrea, Hy fatuer usd a job to think Avout 20 ve could act revein in the sears for Log and we soon returned to Bonbay. I vas too sushi still to be lest with GandiiJi so it ves decided ‘that I should be handed over to usadti shea T completed rive yours of ages aus, after ay fifth birthday i was taten by Gendhiji vhen he cage to boubay aad stayed at the hone of one sr, Roveshanker Jasfivaa Jhavert. I vas iz .odiately brought to Ris ashras 4n Sabaruati, Ahsedeted. at the tise Devadas, the youngest gon of Ganéhiji wes there and dandaijite sister and e feu others. Everything ves strange to ac end T dida't ithe it. wenghiji hed hie om wore to lose etter go 1 sas left to tho inustes of the asnrar to be cared for. Uenditiive eieter thouch ohe had accopted xo would aot touch ae, Afver all, habits die herd and T don't Diane her. She aid every thing for ae but without couesing me, Taus caping for ae ses Devadas's business end everytice I cried or nceded souething he hed to rim about to eiuse ae, When Gendiiji cad dacturda both sent out of tae achren I wea Lote with other featlies in the ashraa silt I gres up to stey alone in the girl's aostel and look after ayselr, After thet in 1009 T got sarried. sais was arranged by Gandhiji, Our eagageuent lasted for two yeara because T vas not very Keen on sorrying at the tise, 1 wanted to take part 4a the aeruggle for frecdos and 4 vas afreid after sarriage ao one would allow se to do 50, But since everyone ineteted thet T shoud T azrecd thet ve would get sarriea after tro years. Thue vo vere aarried in 1033, I xas anxious to sroloag it still rurther but one day hes 1 wae releseed irom Jel I vas told by frevben, an ashras associate who took keen uterest ia ae and Merendes Gondhi, @ nephew of wanthiji sho Locked aiter the affairs of the schres during veudhijits achres that uy narriage was errenged for ie next dey. 1 nas surprisea but they gave ae no tise to thins about it. At the dae I used to suffer sro nysterie fite and everyone thought that 4t was due to puberty and the need to cot murried, Tt was because of this thet thoy vere dna hurry to got we serried, Gandhizd war ia geil at the tine ana I wont to mest his and he ea4a that since every ois insisted I showd get sarried and though Gandhiji and Kasturoa could ao$ be present phy: aay ‘they both ulessed ne and sala they vould be there sa apinit. My husband's nae see carvuayys end he vas a brukaia fron Madras but since ne one in wujaret eould pronounce hic naze properly 4t was enortened to Merutd, After our asrriags so had to cove to Bandold becsuse ay husband 1] worked tn the hadi Spinning Centre there, We could not go the next day sinee it cas a Wednesday snd considered to be daaueptetous so ve left three dogs efter tae sarriage, After a couple of yesrs the centre was snizted ‘to Ahsedsbed so ve all retumed to the sshras, Sou tise later 1 left the eenras and eat to Live in the city of abaedated. At the tise the law of theponra: ses that only those who worked dn the ashraa could get Seconsodation to Live there and since ay ausbend!s job ses uot pert of the ara: york Te had co Live outeide, Q. Do you nave sny brothers and steters? A Yos, there are tro sistore Living dn ahuedsbed st present. and the only brother ives in Kethieuad, ay parenta died about rive years agoe Gondhi snd westurta atvaya called ue huse to etey with then for sonee tam They did treat so Like their ova and everytine I returaed to ay hose after steying with Kasturta for a valle she could sive ne presents for ayself end ay children, 4 reseater Gandhiji aad asked Kasturta to give ue 11 the gold that she had vith her ae a vedding gift but by that tise Keoturbs bed notuing Left rith ner so one coud not give ae anything. After ay buetand's death I vented Lo cose aud live 4a the ashras but lssuidas Achar who was in cherge othe esiiran anid that I could live there only ea condition that : doaate to the asnrea all the Jenellery thet I Pocseesed end handed over to then the Rs, T,000/- that I got frou the dusurance fon ay husband's 1ife, uen I sas to work dn the ashraz for eight hours to cara ay doard aad lodge. But I could not agree to this as I had tho Little children to think of, s0 I refused the offer and decided to stay outside, I wrote to Gaadhiji and suid that he choulé conedder keoving ao and the children dn the eshres and thet I would oars for our andatenauee but if 7 fell short the achras should support me, Gendnija wrote deck to say that waless T covplied vith the regulations of the eure: 1 had no right to stey there or ask for snything ia retura, If you still take auytuing fros the senre \saiast ay sich thea I vill disova you. So T left the ashras and Feturaed £0 our old howe in the eity of Ahuedabed, T still eutfered froa Fite but Ives lucky in finding a ledy doctor who hed ner on aaternity noze 1 | ‘and since I could do nothing else she kept uo there os aa nurse aide. I worted there and earned ny Living. Once whea T sent froz Bardoli to Ahnedated when Gandhi wae there some eioters from the eshran vere going to purchase sarees and I Joined them. It Was Gandhi ji‘s principle that everyone who Lived with hia should spin their om yarn and have their cloth woven fros this, If for any reason they were not able to spin their yam then they should buy tho cheagest ahadi cloth or sree. at the tine hovever there fete some poor peosLe who pun the yarn snd sold At du the market for people rho wanted to buy it and heve the cloth woven according to their taste, Gandhiji did nct dike thie practice very auch Yecause he always Believed that the essence of his teaching was that each should spin and provide for hiaself. However, I had not epun auch and since T wanted @ seree 1 bought sone yarn in the sarket end left 4t with the weavers, Wy seree cea a plain one but one of the others sho had cone with us had ordered 4 sares with silver thresds soven da vith the elota, When we retursed to the ashras Gendhisi coked us uhere we had been ang vhen we told hia that we bad gone to place ondars for sose sarees he vanted to now hex many-were doing so froa their own yarn. Apparently I was the only fone tho had bought yarn and Gandhiji was greatly disappointed and said that ne id not expect thie froa bis daughter, He had the order cancelled and I aever sam the yara aor the saree. B recall snother ident Just after the serriage when I had a gold chain with ne end T bad vorn it that day. But I was greatly afretd of Gendhigi vocsuse T know he @ié not 1ikte GoRd ornaneats sad if say one had thea oa he would ask thon to donate it for the poor. This chain was given to meas a wedding present by azother Indy who Lived 4a the wshraa known as Prenaben Kantak. Presents of say sorts and least of all gold vas elloved tn weddings at the asbrac, But Pronsben, who alvays considered ae as her little sister bad this chain and she wasted ue to have it, So she orought it with her when they e11 coxe to the stavion to see us off after the wedding. she put it around ap neck, When I vent before Gandiiji I tried to hide it with the end of ay saree ‘but Gandhiji was shrened and ssid: What are you pulling the ond of your scree srgund your neck for? Are you hiding soxething? Then ae Laughed and said 1 know you hive @ gold chain eround your neck. Fortunately he &ié not take it. 1] On another cecsssion when ay husband end I were Living outeide the eehran I vent to Bostay to visit uy parente sad friends, Thad with ue a eilk ear which wos give to ae 2s a present on ay wedding by © friend of ay hustand!e, Tt won 9 lovely white ree with s blue border and I wanted to have 4 printed all over but wy friends insisted that I should have it eabroidered, 1 resisted this but they all insisted that eubroidery vould lock better then print. tnd, they ssid T had no ressoa to fear becouse I var not Living in the eshras any sore so 4 vould not be breading any of the ruli I relented and gave tt to sone one for eabroidery, Someone fro: Boaboy, and at that tiue there ore asay who watched you 1ike 4 hark and 4x odistoly carried tales to Gandhiji, wrote to GaudiiJi saying that Incshint has given a sareo to be eabroidered with gold thresd and she has bought dangles vorth stout Rs, T00/-. The fact wae that I had bought bangles north only Re, T/-. But Ganghijt got As exaggerated report and wrote to we saying that he id not expect this rox ae, He said that T ves the daughter of poor father end the wife of # ocor husband and rhst was 1 going to do with bangles worth Re, 100/- and a gold eubroidered saree, ‘his is not for poor people he wrote. If You aust weer crusnents, he wrote, you con uske garlende of the beutiful flowers that nature has provided you vith ond voar thes around your neck. He also wrote to Maruti, my hustond and azologeticelly explained that he @id not ‘now Lakshai would turn out to be such e spend-theist and equander all his soney. He even suggested that if Mamuti felt that ke could not cove with ay exgeacive habits then he nee at Liberty to ask for a divorce. ry husband nas shocked. I erote to ay friends tn Boxbay end told thex that 1 did not vant the saree any sore end they wre at Liverty to do what they Liked with it. 1 Rever saw it thereafter, shea toth of us vrote to Gandiiji and explained to nia that there seens to be soue nisunderatanding and told hia exactly what haa happened, Gondhiji was satieried, Q, You must have © lot of Letters written to you by Gandhija. A. Yoo I hed aay of thon and very interesting ones too but once 1 hed to Leave wy hose for = £6 meecs and by the tise I returned all the Levters were eaten up by white ante sloas with eo omy other things, Sveryonss of thon Je gone nov. i] Sitting here in the roo da watch candhiji Lived yaad worked 4a Sevacras brings back all the sesories of those days uhen he vas Bere, I cau resenter the tiies vuen I used to coue here after ay wedding and after putcing the cailéren to sleep T would be sitting with Gen Ji massaging his foot with fat wile he would de tslking to ali of us. Unes I rexeaber sasturta was there also and stueo there was epseone alresdy attending to Gendhiji 4 asked Kesturte to allow ae to unsonge her foot. Kacturbe turned to ne snd said ay dear girl I think Tex sore heaitay than you are, Lookaat your healthi Your twe children have Jett you ao haggard that one vould thin’ thet you had 22, T thine J wilt neve to minister to your heelth. One day sueh before wy srraage T weed to stay in a reo ta the ashras with teo other girl, Gondhiji had tus worming prayers at four in the soPaing and Be rere all exvected to ve resdy for the prayers whea the vell reng. That sorning 4 4d not aver the bell and chea Gandniji passed ay Fooa he found we Still asleep. in an soke se wo and said it wos tine for prayers. I got up and eitving in front of the afrroy coubing uy heir I wae agein over coue by sleep and I just fored off. Gan AG vadted for ae at the prayer ground enduoticad that T had not yet cous because T hed to sit next to hin, Sose one sid he vould go and call se but Gandhijt said no, he hed slready avaiconed mo, Gandhifi then started the prayers without at Sonetise laver I hesrd footstese returuing and Z quicely sot u and started coubing ay hair, Goudhtji stopced and asked ue why 4 hed not cone to the prayers, I said "Bapuja, I vas coabing y heir.” @his wae a lie oom couse T haa actually gone off co sleep, vendhiji said: Me can't have anything ‘thet srevents us froz ettendias our prayers, Thst 4s the soet injorteat thing in Life. I there ere any obstacles tn the wey to our praying they aust be reaoved. Bo T 8s goin: to eut off your heir." 3 protested end ecid no, But GandhiJi sald thet 4f 1 aid not then he vould have to undexgo a fast for seven days. T could uot ake Gaadhiji go on fest fon ay account. I oxplsined to Gandhiji thst ses even sore serious end all the ore resson way ay hair should be cut off, He iusediately called for a pair Of scissors and hinself cut ell ay hair Leaving only a helt inch crop of hair, ‘The lest tine I eave to Sevagras was in 1942, The struggle tor complete Snderendence ves about to start but there were the revolutionaries vho had besun attsctcing the trains, ete. Geadhijt felt taat I should go back to ay husband becsuse it hes uncertain vnen he vould be taken anay by the police and he aia pot vant to Leave ae sloue thereafter. He found soveonef frou the eshran woo as 1 | going torands Ais jebad and sent ae along with then. ‘That vas the last tine I care here, Thereafter in 1967/48 T thought of going to aeet GoadhiJi in RE DelAL but I die not Like the idea of going and Livins in Birla House so I decided 1 would wait ti11 Gandhijt returned to Sevagrea then go to hia since Sevsgres vas ike @ howe to us, But Genéhifi never returned. Q. Did you take pert in the freedos atrugsle? A, Yoo, Ives errested in 1902, But we were very young then and Geudhigi vas not very ‘een on sending us to prison but re nore a Eroup of young boys and girls and ve ineteted that ve should cleo be allored to do our share for the country. Byentually he relented and 60 ne carried out our satyagrana in & soall torn nesr Naveart, That evesing we ware arrceted but ve were not taxen to the volice station till after aidaicht, fe vere aot alloned to eit dovn, But ne hed enother girl with us Lakenutten Asher who was a very brave Girl and che defied the police and eat <: fe2 the slope to aveit the volice van, Since ts © wore no vehicles svailatle after aidnight they sade us walk the three or four siles to the daletpur jail, On the way I vee a bit afraid because I had never faced such a sitcation and I 4i¢ not nov what to cay if the Inspector questioned ae 90 I resolved that I rill folles the exaiple of Miss Asher and cay exactly whet she says, But ay alsiortume vas that I vee the first to be celled by the Inevector. @, What did you do in the strugcle? Why were you arrested? A, At the tine ve used to ¢istribute leariets andgeongrese Literature and 0 out tn processions, Orten xe sere detained for © few hours and ellozed to go etter that, But on thie day there was & biz proce: on orgeaieed and verore we could Join it the police hadbordoned off the srea and wore not allowing us to 60+ But e decided that wo vould get out of the zolice conon by going out ia grows of tots and tree's purvertediy for @ welic and then Join the procession, saree of us vere going. Besides ae there were another gist and a boy. te rendhed the outer cordon and the police stozped us and aatd we were under arrsot. ‘Then they caught the boy and tris: 4 hin of all his valuables and started beating Bia. when the dusvector told us that 1f we apologised and threw asay the flee we vould De ellowed to go, but ue refused to do this co we vere errested. We were taken to thie Jelelpur jail which was notorious for Ate bestings at the tine. when we reached there as I asia I +i the rarest to be qusctioned by the dnsvector. ue 1] asked ve for ay nae sud adérecs ali the while slayin vith hic cone and ve were waiting to see when he vould beat us vith it, I:gave hia the details asked for then the Inspector assed the constable to search us, Lilevatiuea the other girl who ras vith ue knen shout the zolice tricue go eke hed a 2urse da her hend which she flung into the face of the dnsvector. The iaszector beat up Lilavetiven with hic ceme end ve vere locked u) for eisht days. ‘Then se were taken to tho Surat jail fend efter avother eight days ve speared in court ond vere seatenced to six aoathe Aserisonsent or 6 fine of Re, $00/-. Since aone of us were prepared to pay the fine we were Locked up da jail, ater sone tine)vere taken to the Ssbarsati jail where Asstorbs was also loexed up snd singe she ues aa A claas prisoaer she often passed on to us sove bread and butter. she food otternise vas horrible so we nade do with this supsly and ve spent about 17 days 4a this Jail after vhieh ve were tronsterred to the Yervads Jeil in oona, Kasturba protested saying that xe wore etiit young and should not be treasferred fron one jail to another. But no one Listened to us and ve landed in Yervede wi ore weyacb Sazojink Naidoo who was serving her sentouce there, Sho wae in the next cell so she toox cere Of us Like Kesturea did, We used to get rotis nade of bajri to oat. ‘Tuo retis ver person ver day and since this ras given oly on three days of the seek ve used to est helz of it and Losve tae other hel? to be eaten inter. va Sundays Wo rere given © little jogery asd soe pure cocosuut oil to use far cur heist Dut ve used to save this up and hes some one wae to be Tolecsed ve used to have a party ueing suects with the Joguery and ofl aixed and the rotic that sould serve ao biscuits With tue brosd or rice in the afcernoone we would get a dal ond in the evenings seve vecotable, But aleays there were wossels, res and stones in the food deliveratoly put a to nake us suffer. So done of us over ate that. Me complained to the Jailer about this sad offered to cook our oxn food tut ne would not yellow us. Then ue started giving us gous work to do, here was a setron in the Yerveds prison, aa Baglish 1ady, yhos ve hed to address a2 Miadaat! She vauld give exch of us three shirts to stiten every day end ve hed to return At in the jenings, If say one ned @ sede & a.stake of @ oinsle stiveh sie woud not sey anytiins. she would eivsly open out all the stitches sit there and stiteh 42 agein t4LL si ae sansened. ‘Thus ve passed our eentease in the Vervada Jail. Mouths later efter that 4 ed Mow up quite © bit end when 4 met Gandhiyi he said what ie thie? You look | ike a Little elestastt end he tried to porsulide se to ctet but 4 coud never do At sertiy oocause 1 asd sot save the vAlL gover ane pertly because in the ssnres all of us had to eit Zor eosmunity acols end Kesturhe woulé veil ae not to Listen to Ganchast and that I should eat property every day, Later Zea all ond the doctor suggested tat T should reaueo a veksht, So T van forced to go on s diet. hen T wpote £9 Casinisi about tate he eatd you did not believe se when T told you nor you will have to do it unter aedtaal edvife, Tones once again with Gandhidd and he thereafter aide ne eit next to his at esl tines co thas ne Gould seo hov auch T ate and wast 4 ate, He had insisted thet with wy seals T ext all the Losves of a very bitter plaat shich de regarded 9 boise very good for beats Avout the fase tine Gondhiss hed eabartled on the experdaent of esting every~ thing rev, von grains rere to be eaten raw by soscing thea dn water over night. He had caked ali those sho Lived vith ha to volunteer for this expertieat. T vas not one of hos but one day gous one vent and told Genduisi that 47 you sek us to eet thie re: food vy doatt you eck your daughter to do so too. then Gandhijt celled se end aaced se rT vould join the experiuent end I caid yes. For tifteon deys thereatter T ate nothing but raw food ead the grains were assewred and given by Ganduija hisoelf to each one of us and once agein Ae nade ae eit next to nia to eee Af T vas chering ay food proverly, In fifteen days T lost ebout 10 1be, Thon after sove tise the exzerisent wes abendoneds 1]