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STUDENTS' PROJECTS > BA AND BAPU > The piteous cry of a mother's heart
72. The piteous cry of a mother's heart
Ba and Bapu's eldest son, Harilalbhai, had unfortunately taken to undesirable ways in life and, subsequently, also turned a Muslim. Therefore, the parents were always greatly concerned about his well-being. Often Bapu would blame himself for all these doings of his first-born, saying that the latter was not only born, when Bapu was under the influence of certain delusions, but that he (the son) had also been a witness to several dubious things he (Bapu) did and said when he grew up. All these had left an indelible impression on Harilalbhai's impressionable mind. But Ba's motherly heart suffered great agony. And she gave expression to it once in a very moving letter to him. She said:
"Dear Son, Harilal, I heard lately that some time back for some disorderly behaviour at mid­night, you were hauled up before a Magistrate in Madras, and he fined you, though only one rupee. This shows that the Magistrate was merciful to you and had also regard for your father. But I have been deeply pained by what you did. I do not know if you were alone at the time, or you had some friends, too, then with you. I do not know what to say to you. For years I have been pleading with you to lead a good life, but you have gone from bad to worse. Alas! we, your father and I, have to suffer so much on your ac­count in the evening of our life. What a pity that you, our eldest son, have turned our enemy! But what has grieved me great­ly is your criticism of your father, in which you have been indulging nowadays. Of course, he remains silent and calm. Only if you knew how his heart is always full of love for you. That is why he has again and again offered to keep you with him and me, and cater, too, to your creature comforts; but only on the condition that you mend your present ways. But you are so un­grateful. Your father is no doubt bearing it all so bravely. But I am an old, weak woman, who finds it difficult to suffer patiently the mental torture, caused by your regrettable way of life. I cannot move about with ease among friends and all those who know us. Your father has al­ways forgiven you, but God will never. Every morning I open the daily newspaper in fear, lest it might have some further report of your evil doings. And often when I have sleepless nights, I think of you and wonder where you are these days, what you are eating, where you are staying, etc. Sometime I even long ardently to meet you. But I do not know your where­abouts. But even if any time I chanced to meet you, I am afraid you might insult me.
Further, I fail to understand why you have changed your ancestral religion. However, that is your own personal affair. But why should you lead astray the simple and the innocent who, perhaps, out of regard for your father, are inclined to follow you? You consider only those people as your friends, who give you money for drink. And what is worse, you even ask the people from the platform to walk in your footsteps. This is a self-decep­tion at its worst. But you cannot mislead the people for long. So I beseech you to mend your ways calmly and courageously. When you accepted Islam, you wrote to me, you did so to make yourself better. And, willy-nilly, I reconciled myself to it. But some of your old friends, who saw you recently in Bombay, tell me that your present condition is worse than before." Ba also addressed a letter to some of the Muslim friends, who were known to be egging on Harilalbhai in his undesirable doings. In the course of it she said:
"I fail to understand the keen interest you have been taking in my eldest son's life. You should, on the contrary, take him to task for bringing discredit to your reli­gion. But, instead, you have begun to ad­dress him as Maulvi and show undue res­pect to him whenever you go to the station to see him off! Maybe, you want to make his father and mother a laughing-stock of the world. In that case, I have nothing to say to you, except that what you are doing is highly reprehensible in the eyes of God. I am writing this in the hope that the piteous cry of this sorrowing mother will pierce the heart of at least one of you and you will help my son turn a new leaf. In the meantime, my only comfort lies in the knowledge that we have seve­ral lifelong Muslim friends, who highly disapprove of our son's doings. How I wish our good friend, Dr. Ansari, were living at this hour! He would have given wise counsel to our son."