When he completed his studies in London, Ambedkar left for his home country. Since he did not have much money for travel expenses, he sent a letter to Chatrapati Shri Rajaram Maharaj asking him to send money. Maharaj sent the money. Even though this money was deposited, it was not enough to cover the cost of the ship from London to Bombay, so he had to find a low-cost travel route. He found that the cheapest route was from Liverpool to Colombo, Colombo to Madras, and Madras to Bombay. The owner of a Colombo-bound cargo ship arranged the ticket. The room that he got on the ship was surrounded by animals like pigs, ducks, etc., and his companions were uncultured travelers and boat-workers of various countries and religions: Negro, Christian, Chinese, Indian [Hindi], Arabic, etc. Drinking and dancing, singing and playing games, laughter and enjoyment were the daily activities of these travelers. Reading books and finalizing the outline and form of his future life and social work, thinking about related things, were Ambedkar's daily activities on the ship. In the ship, the heat made him suffer tremendously. Yet he did not spend a single penny for a cold drink.

When he got off the boat at Colombo he had to exit the port to get all the information about the way to Madras. The other passengers had left the port in a rickshaw. When a rickshaw came and stopped in front of Ambedkar, he refused to sit in it. That rickshaw was pulled by an Indian [Hindi] man who would run along and pull it like an animal. To ride in it was inhumane; that was the reason for Ambedkar’s refusal. Also, he knew that untouchables do the work of pulling rickshaws.


Young and old people from the chawl started coming to meet Ambedkar. Ambedkar took the occasion to inquire about their well-being. The news that 'Our Ambedkar Sahib has come from a foreign land!' spread in all four directions. People started coming to meet him in crowds. Two chairs and a bench were provided for visitors. Ambedkar was wearing a well-pressed foreign
shirt, a white lungi tied around his waist, and black slippers on his feet. Balaram Ambedkar and Shankarrao Dhutre (Shankarmama) stood in front to welcome the visitors…. That is when Balaram introduced me [Khairmode] to Dr. Ambedkar....

Balaram brought Yashwant, dressed up in boots and a necktie, before his father. I [Khairmode] thought that Ambedkar would hold his only child close, give him a tight hug, and appreciate him. Yashwant came and stood in front of his father, sweating profusely. Then Balaram said, 'Oh Yashwant, do namaskar to your father!' But Yashwant stood still, trembling. The father said to him, 'What is this, Yashwant! Are you all right?' Yashwant just shook his head.
His father touched Yashwant's chin, kissed him a couple of times and told him to go. Yashwant left.


After Ambedkar went to London, the money he had left with Ramabai ran out in a few days. His brother Shankarrao Dhutre and younger sister Gaurabai both worked as laborers. Shankarrao would get 8-10 annas every day. From that, Ramabai would buy the ingredients for dinner and prepare it and serve it to everyone. Ramabai would make four bhakris at night. One for Mukunda, another for Yashwant, a third for Shankarrao and a fourth for Gaurabai, Lakshmibai and Ramabai. The three of them [=the women] took more rice. Sometimes there would be kordyas [a rather plain masala]
, sometimes not. Mostly they would have to make do with chutney or onions.


He inquired about what I [Khairmode] had read. Then I told him embarrassedly about Marathi poetry, novels and plays. Then he said, 'Read books by English authors like Thackeray, Dickens, Charles Lamb, and so on. Dostoevsky is the best novelist. Read him too.' Then he
told me the story of Dostoevsky's novel 'Crime and Punishment.' His talking and my nodding my head-- this delayed Ambedkar's bath, but he paid no heed to it. 


With a little money in hand, Ambedkar decided to bring his library
in London (to Bombay). He kept this library of seven or eight hundred books with his friend 'F'. This was his friend who worked in the House of Commons office. While studying in London in 1920-30, she and Ambedkar got to know each other at the Museum Library in London. She first came to know Ambedkar as an Indian [Hindi] student who said no to everything else and studied with great perseverance. After that, she gradually became acquainted with his life and future plans.... She was always ready to select and copy excerpts from various books and reports in the library for Ambedkar.... She wanted to marry him and join his Dalit cause, but Ambedkar refused. However, that loving soul did not let her love for Ambedkar wane. He sent her some money to send his library over. Adding her own money, she sent all of Ambedkar's books to Bombay.

Seeing that these books would not fit into his small office on the ground floor of Damodar Hall, Ambedkar took a corner room in the building behind the hall. There, a man prepared and arranged fifteen tall wooden stands and placed books on them according to their subject. 
Ambedkar had an extraordinary hobby of changing the positions of his seating arrangement, writing table, and book stands every couple of months. This hobby was also seen in this room from time to time. He himself used to help move heavy items like book stands, tables, cupboards, etc.

As a result of this labor, his face and palms would turn red. The way babies’ fingers are beautiful and endearing
Ambedkar's fingers were just like that. Due to overwork, those fingers looked like wilted flowers. He would take great care about his hair. After nicely setting his hair flat, while he sat chatting with someone he would run his right hand over his hair. At such a time, while moving his hand through his hair, his gestures would make me think that Ambedkar was being coquettish.. But while doing physical labor, or in a state of sadness, he would leave his hair loose and untouched. His hair was long and curly. It used to dance freely with the wind when it was left loose and free. Even in such a state, Ambedkar's face looked charming.


He would get annoyed if the people sitting around him made a ruckus while his writing was going on. But he would not say anything to anyone. In such a case, if he was sitting with slippers on, he would pull the heel of his right foot out of the slipper and then put it back inside. This fidgeting of his would go on consistently until the writing was finished.

If he felt like making fun of one of the people sitting around him, he would not hold back the mockery and harassment. Seeing that the other was wounded, Ambedkar would press his thumb on his left nostril and look at the mocked man's harassed state in a grave but undecipherable way, and laugh. Seeing that the mocked man was extremely frustrated, he would turn and look left and right and by doing these gestures keep provoking him further.

If for some reason he got angry at someone, the harshness of his voice and the rage on his face would feel terrifying. When he got angry, he would fold the edges of his mouth in such a way, and lash out with such potent words, that the other would fall flat on the ground.
When talking to someone, if he started speaking affectionately, everyone would notice the softness and compassion in his voice.

When speaking at a meeting, he would go on about the pli
ght of his community. The listener would want to continue listening to the beautiful sound of his voice. In meetings, at the beginning of his speech, he would put his hands in the pockets of his coat. His left hand was a little shorter than his right; this secret only his tailor and a few close comrades knew. He would take his hands out of his pockets during the flow of his speech, but he would not make many hand gestures.


Ambedkar and Ramabai would do a strict fast on every full moon day. In the evening, at the time for lighting a lamp in front of the gods in the house,
Ambedkar and Ramabai followed the prayer tradition that had come down in [his father] the Subedar’s family. They would break their fast after the prayers.

People used to celebrate Krishnashtami every year in their cement chawl. This festival...was celebrated on a large scale because of Ambedkar's encouragement.
When people started singing bhajans, their tabla player had not come. Ambedkar took the tabla and added color to the bhajan. People were amazed that such a great scholar who had studied abroad could be so engrossed in playing the tabla! Due to mundane and business difficulties, when Ambedkar would become melancholy, he used to go to the cemetery where the body of the Subedar was cremated and his final rites were performed, and he would have an inner conversation with his father. Sometimes he would take Ramabai with him as well.


For some time, Ambedkar did not have time to pay attention to the education of Yashwant and Mukund. He bought two chairs, a table, and a large lamp to help them study. From time to time he would himself help them study, but he was not able to explain things in a loving and kind way. He  would get angry, and forcefully insist on things. The boys would get frightened and become flustered.

When the boys went out wearing ironed clothes, Ambedkar would say, 'Hey, I never got a good shirt and coat as a student, when I went to college I got Malvani slippers-- and you casually wear your boots and suits to a Marathi school! Wear them! But make a name for yourselves by learning. My father was a Subedar. See how much a Subedar's son has learned. You are the children of a barrister. I will see how much you learn!'

The boys started learning English in the high school (Lovji Castle) of the Gokhale Education Society. From time to time, Ambedkar would inquire about their studies; and if he got into the mood, he would sit down to teach them himself. But his method of teaching was always the same: shouting angrily and smashing books. Yashwant could not bear the burden of studying, due to his illness. He passed English with a second-class grade, but his marks were barely anything. When Ambedkar realized this, he literally hit Yashwant with his shoe.

While Ramabai, Lakshmibai and
Yashwant were weeping profusely, Ambedkar went off to his office muttering in protest, 'I don't want this household of yours', and he did not return home for two to three weeks. Ramabai would send a box of food and Ambedkar would return it, this was going on for many days. 'I treat my wife and children in a bad manner', he would say remorsefully from time to time. But his seeming detachment would not last long. A few days after this incident, Ambedkar’s anger subsided. He began to think of sending the boys to a good school so that they would progress well.


As usual, Ambedkar went to a second-hand book store. There he saw a five-part book called 'Laws of England'.... He took the first
part of that book with him and went home for dinner. He sat reading. Ramabai served dinner and sat down in front of him. 'Start eating', she told her husband five or six times. He said, irritated, 'What is this nagging! I have bought five such books for five hundred rupees! Let me finish this page. Then I will eat.' Then Ramabai said, 'The husband should pay attention to his wife, children, and household matters-- is this written on that page? Tell me that much, and then eat!'.... Ambedkar came home the next night with five or six bundles of vegetables in his hand, with 100-125 sticks of bombila!.... Both of them (Ramabai and Lakshmibai) burst out laughing.


One Sunday afternoon in April 1926, I went to Ambedkar's office. Then I saw that Ambedkar was indulging in singing a song called 'God, when will you get me married, only you know.' If Ambedkar was very happy, then he would hum or loudly sing this song.

Since 'Sharada Natak' is an old and unique play about social reform, Ambedkar had liked it since his childhood and he would sing its verses sometimes. He had not realized that God did not give him a 'sweet neck' [=a good singing voice]-- because he used to sing those verses in his serious and cloud-like echoing voice. When I entered his office, he stopped singing.

II:115-116, 118

[Another  son, Rajaratna, was born.] They decided to hire a temporary nurse to take good care of the child. But no Hindu nurse was willing to work in a cement chawl and for a Mahar family. They got a Christian nurse. She used to see Ramabai and Rajaratna twice a week and give them proper medicine and tonics. When Ambedkar came back from the court, he would change his clothes in the office and go home, and then sit playing with the boy, or carry him on his shoulders and chat with the people in the chawl.

His way of playing with the child was also very different. Other people would call their children words like Dada, Raja, Babu etc. while playing. He would tell the child 'You are a lion cub, you
are a descendant of a warrior, you are the royal son of the emperor, you must do great deeds', and so on. He would get so engrossed by the play that he shouted loudly and his voice echoed throughout the chawl. Everyone started thinking that Ambedkar was finally enjoying his family-life. The sky could not have contained Ramabai's happiness.

By the time Rajaratna was one and a half or two years old, Ramabai had tied several black strings and talismans around his shoulder and neck. For her mental satisfaction, Ambedkar let Ramabai do this. Despite all of this, Rajaratna contracted double pneumonia in July 1926. Ambedkar, Ramabai, Lakshmibai and Shankarrao used to stay up all night and take care of him. On July 18, he began to feel better. On July 19, Ambedkar went to the High Court. Rajaratna's il
lness worsened at 11:00 AM. Shankarrao ran to the High Court to call Ambedkar home. Ambedkar came at half past four. Rajaratna was gone at four o'clock. Ambedkar broke down....

After 1925, his financial situation continued to improve day by day. Therefore, in terms of expenses, he and his family did not have to live through constant constraint as they did before. But the husband and wife did not think that their life together was happy. Both of them were hurting inside. After Rajaratna's death, Ramabai became obsessed with her desire for another pregnancy. Her entire life had been spent fighting hardships, strife, troubles, and sorrows. She had had six pregnancies. Because of these conditions, her body was nearly broken down. The doctor was of the opinion that if she had another pregnancy, she would get tuberculosis. That is why the couple's grief knew no bounds. Ramabai kept sinking mentally, and because of that illness she was bedridden for months on end. Yashwant's arthritis troubled him for three or four months in a row. Ambedkar gradually distanced himself from the family.


Of all his sisters, Ambedkar was especially fond of Tulsa. Since childhood, Tulsa had borne the brunt of many things for Ambedkar. Till she passed her B.A. exam, he frequently lived at her place. Tulsa’s husband, Dharmaji Katekar, used to work as a gate-keeper at a railway workshop. He had a room in the workshop's chawl with thin metal walls, in front of the David mill. Ambedkar would stay there for many days, study there, and go to high school and college from there. In 1917, when he returned to
Bombay from London, to take him home, Tulsa, Ramabai, and Dharmaji Katekar, these three figures, had been waiting for Ambedkar’s ship outside the junction of Ballard Pier, since the morning…. But because there was a wall in between, they did not see Ambedkar, and Ambedkar did not see them. Ambedkar thought, 'Who is going to come here to meet me from home?' Just as Ambedkar, bag in hand, stepped out of the junction, Tulsa shouted, ‘Bhiva!’ She went running to hug Bhiva, and began to cry. Ramabai was standing next to them and crying. Dharmaji Katekar took the bag in his hand. After the flood of happy and sad tears had passed, Ambedkar, wiping his eyes with a handkerchief, asked how everyone was.