Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Salimbhai and Mehr-un-nissaben.

When I had gone to spend time with the Narmada bachao Andolan in the 1990s. I was also going around the Gujarat villages with a friend who was with AKRSP then. We went to one village and met a Salimbhai and Mehr-un-nissaben.
Salimbhai had grown in that village. His father had asked Gandhiji for a plan for himself, and Gandhiji had told him to settle in a village and work there. He did that and his son Salim was born there and grew up there.
Salimbhai asked to see my hand and pressed it and shook his head. He held out his rough hand to me. In a gesture, rooted in goodness, he indicated that the hard work of a lifetime indicated by a gnarled palm versus the softness of the palm of a privileged upbringing. And the deep significance of the Mahatma’s bread labour was conveyed in silence.
He asked me if I had read ‘Ivan the Fool’ of Leo Tolstoy. I hadn’t. He advised me to.I read it later … and the rein that story gave to the imagination of possibilities … of another world.And my gratitude to Salimbhai remains eternal.

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