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SELECTED LETTERS > > GANDHI-SAROJINI NAIDU CORRESPONDENCE > Letter from Sarojini Naidu to Gandhiji, before July 2, 1924
Letter from Sarojini Naidu to Gandhiji, before July 2, 1924


At long last I have, I confess with great sadness, disentangled the tendrils of my heart from all the clinging hands in your South Africa that is so full of your children.
After three months of ceaseless work and traveling when I got aboard the Karagola, I felt I could sleep and sleep and sleep - every fibre of my body was charged with weariness and for the first few days I lay in my chair like a lump of indolence, but now in spite of my fever (a faithful companion), I am quite ready to start another month's work in East Africa. Tomorrow I land at Dar-es-Salaam and, after finishing my tour in Tanganyika, I go on to Kenya and sail from there on 2nd July and reach Bombay on the 12th. I know there will be a struggle to keep me longer in Kenya, but I shall be obdurate because of a selfish reason. My small daughter is returning home for the long vacation from Oxford. I have not seen her for three years. Have you not accused me of being a good mother?
You would laugh if you saw my luggage. I have arrived at a stage in my life and mind when I am dismayed by too many possessions; but Africa has added to them with both hands. I am devising means whereby to dispossess myself of most of them to advantage. Fortunately I have a large family clan! Seven silver jewel boxes and not enough jewels to put into one! Seven silver purses and not enough money to fill one! Fine gorgeous sets of hair-brush and not enough hair left to brush, and O! such beautiful foreign silks which I cannot wear! Caskets of gold, silver, ivory, tortoise-shell with scrolls full of praises of some imaginary lady whom I don't recognize, and so on and so forth, about 175 presents and presentations and I am a wandering singer! How you would laugh at the joyous irony of life. The one thing I was really in need of I could not get in the whole of the African continent - a pair of Indian shoes.
This is quite a frivolous letter, but it is a wholesome reaction, though temporary, from the many South African politicians and the many addresses of high praise. I am taking refuge in light magazines and playing with blue-eyed babies on board.
My fellow-travelers are friendly. It is my good fortune that I always find friendliness everywhere, even while some of the more rabid anti-Asiatics were bitterly attacking me politically, they were most friendly personally! Some people ask such funny questions like a young American in a train who quite seriously asked me in the course of conversation if, after all, Gandhi was not verily a patriot at heart. I nearly collapsed on my seat.

From: Young India, July 3, 1924; Collected Works, Volume 24, pages 340-41