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 traveling 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
'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 reply.
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 it.
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
War was declared on the 4th of August. We reached London on the 6th.