At long last I have, I confess with great sadness, disentangled
the tendrils of my heart from all the clinging hands in your South Africa that
is so full of your children.
After three months of ceaseless work and traveling when I got aboard the Karagola,
I felt I could sleep and sleep and sleep - every fibre of my body was charged
with weariness and for the first few days I lay in my chair like a lump of
indolence, but now in spite of my fever (a faithful companion), I am quite ready
to start another month's work in East Africa. Tomorrow I land at Dar-es-Salaam
and, after finishing my tour in Tanganyika, I go on to Kenya and sail from there
on 2nd July and reach Bombay on the 12th. I know there will be a struggle to
keep me longer in Kenya, but I shall be obdurate because of a selfish reason. My
small daughter is returning home for the long vacation from Oxford. I have not
seen her for three years. Have you not accused me of being a good mother?
You would laugh if you saw my luggage. I have arrived at a stage in my life and
mind when I am dismayed by too many possessions; but Africa has added to them
with both hands. I am devising means whereby to dispossess myself of most of
them to advantage. Fortunately I have a large family clan! Seven silver jewel
boxes and not enough jewels to put into one! Seven silver purses and not enough
money to fill one! Fine gorgeous sets of hair-brush and not enough hair left to
brush, and O! such beautiful foreign silks which I cannot wear! Caskets of gold,
silver, ivory, tortoise-shell with scrolls full of praises of some imaginary
lady whom I don't recognize, and so on and so forth, about 175 presents and
presentations and I am a wandering singer! How you would laugh at the joyous
irony of life. The one thing I was really in need of I could not get in the
whole of the African continent - a pair of Indian shoes.
This is quite a frivolous letter, but it is a wholesome reaction, though
temporary, from the many South African politicians and the many addresses of
high praise. I am taking refuge in light magazines and playing with blue-eyed
babies on board.
My fellow-travelers are friendly. It is my good fortune that I always find
friendliness everywhere, even while some of the more rabid anti-Asiatics were
bitterly attacking me politically, they were most friendly personally! Some
people ask such funny questions like a young American in a train who quite
seriously asked me in the course of conversation if, after all, Gandhi was not
verily a patriot at heart. I nearly collapsed on my seat.
From: Young India, July 3, 1924; Collected Works, Volume 24, pages