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Dear Sir,

After reading your article, entitled "The Dandi Salt March" in CHANGE (March-April 2004 issue), I thought I'd share this anecdote from Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre with readers.

"What Am I To Do Then??/font>

It was 27 January, 1948. Gandhiji was in a good mood at Delhi. As always, every moment of Gandhiji's day was carefully planned. He wrote a dozen letters. He laboured on his draft of his new constitution for the Congress party. He also received a stream of visitors. He joked with Indira Gandhi and her cousin Tara Pandit, autographed a picture for Margaret Bourke-White. As he did so, he told her that America should abandon the atomic bomb. Non-violence, he said, was the only force the bomb could not destroy. In an atomic attack, he would urge his followers to stand firm, "looking up, watching without fear, praying for the pilot".

Suddenly, with the swiftness of a monsoon downpour, a discordant note intruded upon that busy, happy and cheerful day ?A group of Hindus and Sikhs from the Frontier Province, victims of a terrible massacre on the day Gandhiji had announced his fast, came to call. Before Gandhiji could offer them an expression of his grief, one of their embittered number ruthlessly snarled at him, "You have done us enough harm. You have ruined us utterly. Leave us alone. Go, retire to the Himalayas."

These words stunned Gandhiji. The little weak body seemed to crumple as he heard them, as though some terrible weight was crushing down on him. Going out for his prayer meeting, his pace was laboured. The hands that usually rested on Manu and Abha as lightly as wisps of cotton khadi, gripped their shoulders for support.

His voice soft and weak, a terrible sadness underlining each of his syllables, India's Mahatma began to address his countrymen for the last time. The shadows of winter twilight were already beginning to thrust their stains across the lawn as he spoke. Inevitably, he turned to the exchange with the angry refugee that had so upset him.

"Whom shall I listen to?" he asked the silent gathering before him. "Some ask me to stay here while others ask me to go away. Some reprove and revile me, whereas others extol me. What am I to do then?" he asked sadly, his voice soft and full of hurt and grief. "I do what God commands me to do. I seek peace amidst disorder."

After a long and thoughtful silence, Gandhiji concluded: "My Himalayas," he said, "are here."

Gandhiji was assassinated in New Delhi just three days later on 30 January, 1948.

Nariman Bacha
Personnel Administration