36. Misery of the Coach
Gandhiji had to face yet another difficulty while going to Pritoria. In those days there was no railway from Charleston to Johanessberg. One had to travel by a horse driven coach.
He got a ticket and was about to get on the coach when the coachman stopped him saying, "I cannot let you get in. Your ticket was for yesterday!"
Thinking that Gandhiji must be new to that place, he was making an excuse. Actually he did not want this black labourer to travel in his coach along with the Britishers.Gandhiji was not going to listen to him. At last he agreed to let Gandhiji travel with him but not inside the coach. He offered him a seat in the front near the coachman.
In spite of this insult Gandhiji accepted the seat offered to him.
After traveling some distance one of the Britishers wished to sit near the coachman and smoke a cigarette. He wanted to enjoy fresh air too. He took a dirty cloth from the coachman and spreading it on the foothold asked Gandhiji, "Hey Swami! You shift there. I want to sit near the coachman."
This insult made Gandhiji very angry. The white man was quite strong. Gandhiji was not only weak but lonely too. Yet, how could he ignore such insult?
He said, "You asked me to sit here. I ignored the insult. Now you want to smoke the cigarette and wish me to sit at your feet. I would rather sit inside the coach than at your feet."
Listening to this the white man slapped him and tried to pull him down the coach. Gandhiji firmly took hold of the iron rod near the seat. He decided that he wouldn't let it go even if his wrists got fractured.
The white man was abusing and pulling him. Gandhiji kept silent but held on firmly and did not leave the seat. At last, other passengers interfered. They scolded the coachman and freed Gandhiji.