New Delhi: The heroes
of modern India have come alive in their human avatars in a new
anthology of biographical sketches by noted writer and former
governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of
The volume, "Of A Certain Age", profiles icons like Mahatma
Gandhi, Acharya Kriplani, Jayaprakash Narayan, Jyoti Basu,
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and the Dalai Lama who have influenced
the country's destiny with their contributions.
It probes their frailties, fears, strengths and throws up
little-known facts - oddities and qualities that made them
In his opening essay on grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, the writer
lends Gandhi a homely and down-to-earth air with a vivid
description of a domestic quibble between Mohandas and wife
Gopalkrishna Gandhi quotes from a record penned by Mahatma Gandhi
"When I was staying in Durban, my office clerks often stayed with
me...One of our clerks was Christian, born of 'panchama'
(untouchable) parents...The house was built after the western
model and the rooms rightly had no outlets for dirty water. Each
room had a chamber pot."
"Rather than have these cleaned by a servant or a sweeper, my wife
and I attended to them," Mahatma Gandhi wrote.
The clerks who made themselves completely at home would clean
their own pots, but the Christian clerk was a newcomer and Mahatma
Gandhi said "it was our duty to attend to his bedroom..."
Kasturba and Mohandas fell out over the cleaning of a
'untouchable' pot. Gandhi dragged Kasturba to the gate of his
house after a fight and threatened to throw her out.
"For heaven's sake, behave yourself and shut the gate. Let us not
be found making scenes like this..." Kasturba screamed.
Gandhi put on a brave face and mused, "If my wife could not leave
me, neither could I leave her..."
According to Gandhian historian Pyarelal, Kasturba and Mohandas
Gandhi were a "couple out of the ordinary", the writer says in his
Pyarelal, owned along with the Gandhi papers, an tangible but
almost inexhaustible fund of Gandhi episodes that he narrated with
delight, Gopalkrishna Gandhi says.
The writer, who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1968,
had served in several key positions in the country and abroad. He
was secretary to then president K.R. Narayanan and retired as the
governor of West Bengal.
He has authored three books -- "Refuge", a novel based on the
ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka in 1987, "Dara Shukoh", a play in
verse, and "Essential Gandhi", a compilation.
The book published by Penguin-India costs Rs.499. It was released
in the capital Monday.