29 February, 1924
It is the still small hour when a really truthful person does
not know whether to say good night or good morning - going on to about three
o'clock. The whole of Johannesburg is profoundly asleep after its long day of
toil and revel and for the moment it has doffed its usual daily garment of race
conflict and race arrogance.
I cannot sleep in South Africa and it is all your fault. You haunt the land and its soil is impregnated with the memory of your wonderful struggle, sacrifice, and triumph. I am so deeply moved, so deeply aware all the time that here was the cradle of satyagraha - do you wonder that I have been able to move thousands of men and women in the last two days to tears under the influence and stimulus of your inspiration? Something has come to me since I entered the Transvaal and the heart of the enemy, even while it dissents, melts between my hands as I speak, arraign and appeal... Scores and scores of Europeans have said since I arrived that they hope and believe that what they call my brave fight will triumph. I have no doubt of that victory - since the cause is yours, the battle yours, the soldier yours - and yours the ambassador to make peace but peace which shall be a victory and bought with a price...
I have seen your legion of old friends and followers - white, brown and black the whole gamut of the polychromatic scale of humanity in this land - all send you their love, especially the Phillips and Hermann Kallenbach and others. How can I remember every one who loves you? The Tamil women are very spry - they say "hum Gandhi ke sath jail gaya tha. Phir bhi jayega agar tum bolo".
From the Transvaal I go to Cape Town, thence to Durban (of course to Phoenix) and I set my face homewards on the 16th and reach on 5th April. I shall of course fly swifter on my broken wing than any dove to see you - and after that to the Golden Threshold for a day or two. Padmaja has sent me an enchanting description of you in your bed jacket of doubtful Swadeshi, sitting up in bed. The letter reached me as I sat down to a banquet and I read it out to an enchanted audience! I do hope you are getting to be a formidable rival to your lieutenant Shaukat Ali in physical force!! Wouldn't you love some Cape pears and peaches. I'll eat them on your behalf while I'm here and if I think they'll travel, well I'll bring some with me. I think I must go to bed now - it is distinctly good morning, I'm afraid. I shall have hollows around my eyes tomorrow and look like a hag instead of the "charming visitor" that the South African papers believe me to be!! - what a tragedy especially as I have to be photographed for Indian Opinion. Tell little Ba that I shall bring her the minutest details of her son - Padmaja has warned me that Ba expects a catalogue of items about him - body, soul, and mind.
May I confess very privately that at odd intervals I don't feel very satyagrahic but am consumed with envy, malice and wrath because everyone is falling over his neighbour to get your "darshan" and I am defrauded of my fair claim - that is arrogance on my part, is it not? But Padmaja and Mina will have their heads pinched for so basely stealing a march upon me and going off to see you the minute you had revived from chloroform!
However, I am on my pilgrimage which somehow has also become an embassy in the course of which I have delivered your epigram as an ultimatum "within the empire if possible, without the empire if necessary". Personally, my tendencies are all towards the latter portion of your saying.
From: S N 9918