37. TO MEET GOKHALE
I must skip many of the
recollections of South Africa.
At the conclusion of the Satyagraha
struggle in 1914, I received Gokhale's instruction to return home via
London. So in July, Kasturbai, Kallenbach and I sailed for England.
During Satyagraha I had begun
travelling third class. I therefore took third class passages for this
voyage. But there was a good deal of difference between third class accommodation
on the boat on this route, and that provided on Indian coastal boats or
railway trains. There is hardly sufficient sitting, much less sleeping,
accommodation in the Indian service, and little cleanliness. During the
voyage to London, on the other hand, there was enough room and cleanliness,
and the steamship company had provided special facilities for us. The company
had provided reserved closet accommodation for us, and as we were fruitarians,
the steward had orders to supply us with fruits and nuts. As a rule third
class passengers get little fruit or nuts. These facilities made our eighteen
days on the boat quite comfortable.
Some of the incidents during
the voyage are well worth recording. Mr. Kallenbach was very fond of binoculars,
and had one or two costly pairs. We had daily discussions over one of these.
I tried to impress on him that this possession was not in keeping with
the ideal of simplicity that we aspired to reach. Our discussions came
to a head one day, as we were standing near the porthole of our cabin.
'Rather than allow these to
be a bone of contention between us, why not throw them into the sea and
be done with them?' said I.
'Certainly throw the wretched things
away,' said Mr. Kallenbach.
'I mean it,' said I.
'So do I,' quickly came the
And forthwith I flung them into
the sea. They were worth some £7, but their value lay less in their
price than in Mr. Kallenbach's infatuation for them. However, having got
rid of them, he never regretted it.
This is but one out of the many
incidents that happened between Mr. Kallenbach and me.
Every day we had to learn something
new in this way, for both of us were trying to tread the path of Truth.
In the march towards Truth, anger, selfishness, hatred, etc., naturally
give way, for otherwise Truth would be impossible to attain. A man who
is swayed by passions may have good enough intentions, may be truthful
in word, but he will never find the Truth. A successful search for Truth
means complete deliverance from the dual throng such as of love and hate,
happiness and misery.
Not much time had elapsed since
my fast when we started on our voyage. I had not regained my normal strength.
I used to stroll on deck to get a little exercise, so as to revive my appetite
and digest what I ate. But even this exercise was beyond me, causing me
pain in the calves, so much so that on reaching London I found that I was
worse rather than better. There I came to know Dr. Jivraj Mehta. I gave
him the history of my fast and subsequent pain, and he said, 'If you do
not take complete rest for a few days, there is a fear of your legs going
out of use.'
It was then that I learned that
a man emerging from a long fast should not be in a hurry to regain lost
strength, and should also put a curb on his appetite. More caution and
perhaps more restraint are necessary in breaking a fast than in keeping
In Madeira we heard that the
great War might break out at any moment. As we entered the English Channel,
we received the news of its actual outbreak. We were stopped for some time.
It was a difficult business to tow the boat through the submarine mines
which had been laid throughout the Channel, and it took about two days
to reach Southampton.
War was declared on the 4th
of August. We reached London on the 6th.