23. TO SOUTH AFRICA AGAIN
Manilal was restored to
health, but I saw that the Girgaum house was not habitable. It was damp
and ill-lighted. So in consultation with Shri Raveshankar Jagivan, I decided
to hire some well-ventilated bungalow in a suburb of Bombay. I wandered
about in Bandra and Santa Cruz. The slaughter house in Bandra prevented
our choice falling there. Ghatkopar and places near it were too far from
the sea. At last we hit upon a fine bungalow in Santa Cruz, which we hired
as being the best from the point of view of sanitation.
I took a first class season
ticket from Santa Cruz to Churchgate, and remember having frequently felt
a certain pride in being the only first class passenger in my compartment.
Often I walked to Bandra in order to take the fast train from there direct
I prospered in my profession
better than I had expected. My South African clients often entrusted me
with some work, and it was enough to enable me to pay my way.
I had not yet succeeded in securing
any work in the High Court, but I attended the 'moot' that used to be held
in those days, though I never ventured to take part in it. I recall Jamiatram
Nanabhai taking a prominent part. Like other fresh barristers I made a
point of attending the hearing of cases in the High Court, more, I am afraid,
for enjoying the soporific breeze coming straight from the sea than for
adding to my knowledge. I observed that I was not the only one to enjoy
this pleasure. It seemed to be the fashion and therefore nothing to be
However I began to make use of the
High Court library and make fresh acquaintances, and felt that before long
I should secure work in the High Court.
Thus whilst on the one hand
I began to feel somewhat at ease about my profession, on the other hand
Gokhale, whose eyes were always on me, had been busy making his own plans
on my behalf. He peeped in at my chambers twice or thrice every week, often
in company with friends whom he wanted me to know, and he kept me acquainted
with his mode of work.
But it may be said that God
has never allowed any of my own plans to stand. He has disposed them in
His own way.
Just when I seemed to be settling
down as I had intended, I received an unexpected cable from South Africa:
'Chamberlain expected here. Please return immediately.' I remembered my
promise, and cabled to say that I should be ready to start the moment they
put me in funds. They promptly responded, I gave up the chambers and started
for South Africa.
I had an idea that the work
there would keep me engaged for at least a year, so I kept the bungalow
and left my wife and children there.
I believed then that enterprising
youths who could not find an opening in the country should emigrate to
other lands. I therefore took with me four or five such youths, one of
whom was Maganlal Gandhi.
The Gandhis were and are a big
family. I wanted to find out all those who wished to leave the trodden
path and venture abroad. My father used to accommodate a number of them
in some state service. I wanted them to be free from this spell. I neither
could nor would secure other service for them; I wanted them to be self-reliant.
But as my ideals advanced, I
tried to persuade these youths also to conform their ideals to mine, and
I had the greatest success in guiding Maganlal Gandhi. But about this later.
The separation from wife and
children, the breaking up of a settled establishment, and the going from
the certain to the uncertain--all this was for a moment painful, but I
had inured myself to an uncertain life. I think it is wrong to expect certainties
in this world, where all else but God that is Truth is an uncertainty.
All that appears and happens about and around us is uncertain, transient.
But there is a Supreme Being hidden therein as a Certainty, and one would
be blessed if one could catch a glimpse of that Certainty and hitch one's
waggon to it. The quest for that Truth is the summum bonum of life.
I reached Durban not a day too
soon. There was work waiting for me. The date for the deputation to wait
on Mr. Chamberlain had been fixed. I had to draft the memorial to be submitted
to him, and accompany the deputation.