Today's Beautiful Gem: A passage from `My
Experiments with Truth'
by Mahatma Gandhi translated from Gujarati by Mahadev Desai.
"The train reached Maritzburg, the capital of Natal, at about
9 PM. Beddings used to be provided at this station. A railway
servant came and asked me if I wanted one. `No,' said I, `I
have one with me.' He went away. But a passenger came next,
and looked me up and down. He saw that I was a `coloured' man.
That disturbed him. Out he went and came in again with one or
two officials. They all kept quiet, when another official came
to me and said, `Come along, you must go to the van compartment.'
"`But I have a first class ticket,' said I. `That does not matter,'
rejoined the other. `I tell you, you must go to the van
compartment.' `I tell you, I was permitted to travel in this
compartment at Durban, and I insist on going on in it.' `No, you
won't,' said the official. `You must leave this compartment, or
else I shall have to call a police constable to push you out.'
`Yes, you may. I refuse to go out voluntarily.'
"The constable came. He took me by the hand and pushed me out.
My luggage was also taken out. I refused to go to the other
compartment and the train steamed away. I went and sat in the
waiting room, keeping my hand-bag with me, and leaving the other
luggage where it was. The railway authorities had taken charge
"It was winter, and winter in the higher regions of South Africa
is severely cold. Maritzburg being at a higher altitude, the cold
was extremely bitter. My overcoat was in my luggage, but I did
not dare ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and
shivered. There was no light in the room. A passenger came in
at about midnight and possibly wanted to talk to me. But I was
in no mood to talk.
"I began to think of my duty. Should I fight for my rights or go
back to India, or should I go on to Pretoria without minding
the insults, and return to India after finishing the case?
It would be cowardice to run back to India without fulfilling
my obligation. The hardship to which I was subjected was
superficial-- only a symptom of the deep disease of colour
prejudice. I should try, if possible, to root out the disease
and suffer hardships in the process. Redress for wrongs I should
seek only to the extent that would be necessary for the removal
of the colour prejudice.
"So I decided to take the next available train to Pretoria."
Note: On Tuesday, based on the results of a universal franchise,
Nelson Mandela is assuming the office of the President of South Africa.
Om Santih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao