Books & Authors

‘I am a Sindhi’ – Gandhi

Gandhi loved Sindhis and Sindhis loved Gandhi!! Gandhi referred to Sindhis as “world citizens”, since they were, even in those days, living in many countries.

After Partition, the experiences that Sindhis underwent changed their opinions about Gandhi. The blind adoration was often transformed to wariness tinged with bitterness.

Saaz Aggarwal

At school, 2 October* was the day we sang Raghupati Raghava. The cooking staff got the day off and we were supposed to fix our own meals. These days when I think of Gandhi, however, the predominant thought is of ME TOO, and how so many people have got away with so many atrocities for so long.

But for today (and since my new book LOSING HOME will be out soon!) I must put that thought aside and tell you something related to this wonderful illustration by the inimitable Subhodeep Mukherjee. It’s the centerspread of the book, and one of the few illustrations not entirely historically authentic, made just for fun. It’s based on a 1916 photograph that appeared in Ratan Jyot magazine and was recently scanned from a vintage book and sent to me by Nasir Aijaz.

In this illustration, Gandhi is much older, dressed the way he used to dress at the peak of the freedom movement, and many of the people seen around him – including the young LK Advani and the brave Hemu Kalani – probably never met Gandhi or attended a meeting like this one.

As KR Malkani tells us in his book THE SINDH STORY: “Gandhi visited Sindh seven times: in 1916, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1929, 1931, and 1934. It was a Sindhi friend who had helped Gandhi shift from an expensive hotel to affordable lodgings when he arrived in London for his law studies. In 1893, CL Lachiram, a Sindhi merchant, helped him organize the Natal Indian Congress.

Gandhi-Freedom Fighters“In 1899, Barrister Gandhi successfully fought for seven Sindhi traders who were being denied entry into South Africa. He supported the case of K. Hundamal, a silk merchant of Durban, in his articles in the Indian Opinion.

“When Vishnu Sharma wrote a book on Gandhiji’s satyagraha in South Africa and sent him a copy of the same, the latter acknowledged it with thanks. During his visit to Sindh in 1916, Gandhiji was presented with a welcome address artistically framed in Sindhi style. Gandhiji liked it so well that he kept it for years and showed it to visitors as an excellent example of Indian art.”

Anyway, what I wanted to say was – Gandhi loved Sindhis and Sindhis loved Gandhi!! Gandhi referred to Sindhis as “world citizens”, since they were, even in those days, living in many countries. About the many things he said about Sindh and Sindhis, the most famous is, “I am a Sindhi”.

After Partition, the experiences that Sindhis underwent changed their opinions about Gandhi. The blind adoration was often transformed to wariness tinged with bitterness.

* October 2, 1869 – Gandhi’s birthday. 

_____________

A glimpse from Saaz Aggarwal’s new book ‘Losing Home’, soon to land in the market. 

Courtesy: Saaz Aggarwal

Saaz-Aggarwal- Sindh CourierSaaz Aggarwal is an independent researcher, writer and artist based in Pune, India. Her body of writing includes biographies, translations, critical reviews and humor columns. Her books are in university libraries around the world, and much of her research contribution in the field of Sindh studies is easily accessible online. Her 2012 Sindh: Stories from a Vanished Homeland is an acknowledged classic. With an MSc from Mumbai University in 1982, Saaz taught undergraduate Mathematics at Ruparel College, Mumbai, for three years. She was also the feature editor at Times of India.

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