When Gandhiji came to Bangalore
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
Very young though I was at that time, Gandhiji’s arrival to our Bangalore is still etched in my memory because of the tremor it caused. Whole atmosphere was surcharged with different emotions; women eager to see in person that little man who held the vast population of their Bharat in his loving hands, and the men wary lest their women part with their gold. Not that the patriotic fervour was dead in them, but immediate responsibilities taking primary place, they saw to it that the ladies sail out without any jewels. Some did not even allow mangalya chain around their neck, saying- “He has the magnetic power of making you forget yourself, and mutely hand over all your possessions!” Many were forced to wear old sarees and go. “No display of ostentation!” They were warned by the majordomoes- "We have to think of priorities.” ***
Nevertheless, the men also went, and mesmerized,emptied their pockets,rent the air with their ‘Jai jai’, and returned, much to the relief of their women who were apprehensive lest their breadwinners join Satyagraha movement and vanish, or land in jail. I also remember the immense disappointment of us children. Disappointment on two scores! First that we were not allowed to wear our finery reserved for outings, and secondly, our disillusionment at seeing a loincloth-clad man instead of the bejewelled king with glittering crown-sword we had visualised. A child had openly shouted- “Did we come all the way to see this naked man?” It must have been me,for, I remember elders chiding me like anything after reaching home.
Anyway, impressed by all that fanfare trailing Bapu whether he liked it or not, we children began to play ‘Gandhi-Aatta’(play). Getting hold of his photo from a newspaper, and brandishing a makeshift flag of different colours, we would circle the street crying out ‘Jai-Jai-Jai,’ till our voices grew hoarse. But one day the ‘Aatta’ stopped abruptly when a policeman appeared suddenly on the scene. Discarding the flag we fled, and avoided that road for nearly a week!
Recently,I met a friend of that ‘Jai’ group,and had a good laugh going over our recollections. While about it,she had another very interesting incident to narrate.
Her mother being a silent ardent admirer of Gandhiji, had surreptitiously worn her two thick gold bangles that memorable day, and laid them at his feet. His warm hand on her forehead, and his benign smile had more than compensated, but, when she neared her house what a frightening sight! The enraged husband would not let her cross even the threshold! Suspicious, he had followed her to the venue. Viewing the donation with horrified eyes, was all set to mete out the punishment he felt she deserved. Insulted beyond words,she had simply walked away without offering any explanation or commiseration! Taken aback, he had followed her to the road and literally begged her to return home!
“Really! Where would she have gone if he had not done so?” I questioned the friend aghast.
“I put the same question,and do you know what she replied? “Where else will shelterless women go except to their father’s? I would have gone straight to Bapu,and joined his independence movement………….”
Such was the charisma of Mahatma Gandhiji, Father of our Nation!