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STUDENTS' PROJECTS > BA AND BAPU > Ba : "Have at least some decency"
Ba : "Have at least some decency"
When Bapu was practising as a lawyer at Durban in South Africa, his clerks, one a Hindu Gujarati and the other a Christian South Indian, used to stay with him. They all lived like the members of one family. And it was one of the rules of the house that everyone would remove the chamber-pot from his own room every morning. Once, however, another Christian clerk came to stay with them. Who was to remove his chamber-pot, was now the question. Ba hesitated to do this, while at the same time she did not wish that Bapu should do the job. However, after a little argument she agreed to do the needful. What followed thereafter may best be described in Bapu's own words in his Autobiography:
"Even today I can recall the picture of her chiding me, her eyes red with anger, and pearl-drops streaming down her cheeks, as she descended the ladder with the pot in hand. But I was a cruelly kind husband. I regarded myself as her teacher, and so harassed her out of my blind love for her.
I was far from being satisfied by her merely carrying the pot. I would have her do it cheer­fully. So I said, raising my voice: 'I will not stand this nonsense in my house.'
The words pierced her like an arrow.
She shouted back: 'Keep your house to yourself and let me go.'
I forgot myself, and the spring of compassion dried up in me. I caught her by the hand, dragged the helpless woman to the gate, which was just opposite the ladder, and proceeded to open it with the intention of pushing her out.
The tears were running down her cheeks in torrents, and she cried: 'Have you no sense of shame? Must you so far forget yourself? Where am I to go ? I have no parents or relatives here to harbour me. Being your wife, you think I must put up with your cuffs and kicks ? For heaven's sake behave yourself, and shut the gate. Let us not be found making scenes like this!'
I put on a brave face, but was really ashamed and shut the gate. If my wife -could not leave me, neither could I leave her. We have had numerous bickerings, but the end has always been peace between us. The wife, with her matchless powers of endurance, has always been the victor.
Today I am in a position to narrate the incident with some detachment, as it belongs to a period out of which I have fortunately emerged. I am no longer a blind, infatuated husband. I am no more my wife's teacher. Kasturba can, if she will, be as unpleasant to me today, as I used to be to her before. We are tried friends, the one no longer regarding the other as the object of lust. She has been a faithful nurse throughout my illnesses, serving without any thought of reward."