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SELECTED LETTERS > GANDHI -SAROJINI NAIDU CORRESPONDENCELetter from Sarojini Naidu to Gandhiji, August 7, 1928

 

Letter from Sarojini Naidu to Gandhiji, August 7, 1928

Tuberculosis Sanatorium,
Arogyavanam, Chittoor District
7th August, 1928

A pastoral vision of great beauty is spread all around me. The sunset has dyed the clouds in the west in the glowing colours of flame and in the east in the tender colours of flowers. The low hills have taken on every dream-like shadow, steeped in blue and purple, and the undulating valley just below is settling down to rest, gathering the wandering sheep, hushing the wild dove and wild hawks to slumber, collecting the little groups of peasants and labourers to their thatched huts under the boughs of sheltering trees... Soon, all the denizens of this secluded colony set in the heart of such sylvan beauty will be at rest, each in his or her own bed, and soon the nightfall will wrap the hills and valleys and woods in a velvet darkness... but the darkness alas does not always bring comfort to the suffering nor sleep... What poignant vigils does the night witness that the world never knows... how many such poignant vigils have the people of Bardoli kept night after night after night... but I rejoice that tonight the darkness will bring dreams of sweetness to those whose spirits were so unwearied in battle through long and terrible weeks... the sleep of the satyagrahi when his work is over is indeed a divine gift of the Gods.
Do you remember the words of the German philosopher, "let your work be a battle, let your peace be a victory"? So it has been at Bardoli. The peace has indeed been a victory of peace and peaceful ways.
I have just finished the last page of the English version of your moving and vivid history of the South African satyagraha when the post brought the papers with the longed for and joyful news of the Bardoli settlement... honourable to both sides. As I wrote to "Sardar" Vallabhai a month ago, I have always felt and known that satyagraha in its deep, authentic sense, is literally "the treasure of the lowly," to use Maeterlinck's beautiful phrase for those who are content with realities and not seekers after false values and false shadows... Your dream was to make Bardoli the perfect example of satyagraha: Bardoli has fulfilled itself, in its own fashion, interpreting and perfecting your dream.
I have not written to you all these months. You know I never write unless the mood or the moment or some other unique matter needs to find expression and you are already too heavily burdened with irrelevant and unnecessary correspondence and correspondents. You know that I am very closely in touch with you at all times and that it does not need frequent interchange of words between us. I know too that I always have your affection and your understanding and in no circumstances your misunderstanding or lack of understanding!
I have been all the time with Padmaja since the All Parties One Day Conference. She has had very interrupted convalescence. Her temperature and temperament are both rather difficult factors, one is so erratic in its ups and downs; the other is so extraordinarily delicate, sensitive, and finely strong. But I hope that now she will begin to have a more steady chronicle of progress.
I have become an expert in all the domestic virtues - practice makes perfect, but even more true is the proverb that opportunity makes - the Cook! I am almost as skilled in the culinary art as you are. Don't I know, remember and in memory still relish all the forbidden dainties you cooked for me during my first visit to the ashram long ago when your unfortunate inmates were the victims of your passion for boiled unsalted cereals, dog's food as I called it, only my dogs would never eat such dreadful stuff!
I hope to be in Bombay about the 20th on my way to Lucknow for the All Parties' Conference.
The decisions of that conference will have momentous consequences. I can only pray that Lucknow will be once again a historic centre of Hindu-Muslim reconciliation and cooperation...
You know that the very core and centre of all my public labour has been - the Hindu-Muslim unity...
Now about America: it seems to be written in the book of fate that I must go. You and everyone else in India think that I should go. The calls from America are incessant and insistent. I am not very happy at the thought of leaving India at such a critical time: but I have given my word and I mean to keep it. Maybe I shall be good ambassador. I go not to refute the falsehoods of an ignorant and insolent woman but to interpret the Soul of India to a young nation striving to create its own traditions in a new world... India has an imperishable gift to make to the new world as it has made to the old world age after age.
It is getting too dark to write... and I must get back to the ward and get Padmaja's invalid dinner of soup and a cheese toast both of my own legerdemain! I was Mary when I commenced my letter in the radiant sunset, I am Martha at the moment cumbered with household cares. So should every woman be, should she not, a combination of Martha, the housemother, and Mary, the daughter of beauty of the spirit...
Good night. May the peace that passeth all understanding be yours - O apostle of peace.

Your loving "Mirabai",
Sarojini Naidu

If you can create one moment, do please send a word of cheer to Padmaja who has been really a very courageous little sufferer... and when, not if, you write to me, please address it to Bombay.

From: SN 14456