Kolkata:HarperCollins Publishers India has announced a reproduction of Kastur’s diary, the original, accompanied by a transcription of what she has written, in Gujarati, and the same translated in English by Tushar Gandhi.
A couple of years ago, while searching through cupboards and trunks at Kasturba Ashram, Indore, the staff of Gandhi Research Foundation of Jalgaon found a deteriorating and damaged diary. It turned out to be a diary written by Kasturba Gandhi, from January to September 1933.
It is about 135 pages. Like Kasturba, her diary was also forgotten and neglected. Thanks to the Gandhi Research Foundation, the original diary has been restored, conserved and digitised.
All her life, Kastur was dismissed as being uneducated and unlettered. Initially, when Tushar Gandhi spoke about the diary, even family members refused to believe that there could be such a thing, “She was illiterate.
She could not write,” he was told. As Tushar read Ba’s diary this assumption was dispelled. The diary also allows a tiny peek into who Kasturba was – an individual, a companion and spouse, and a Satyagrahi in her own right, unlettered but astute. As her great-grandson, Tushar feels blessed and privileged to have got this opportunity.
Talking about the diary, Tushar Gandhi said, “Kasturba was always dismissed as uneducated and unlettered. The importance of her diary is that it dispels this misconception. The diary describes in her own limited words her life in the absence of her husband, whose shadow turned her invisible. It describes her campaigns and her Satyagraha, for which she was arrested and imprisoned. The importance of the diary is that it is in her own words.”
About her vision for the book, Swati Chopra, Executive Editor, HarperCollins India says: “In the recounting of the history of India’s freedom movement, Kasturba Gandhi has till now appeared as a supporting figure at best. With the discovery and publication of her diary, we get to hear her voice and through it, are introduced to a courageous woman who emerged from the Mahatma’s shadow to become a remarkable activist and leader in her own right.”
The Diary of Kastur, My Ba will for the first time give the reader an insight into Kastur, in her own words, through a diary written by her. It provides a peek into what it took to be married to a ‘Mahatma’.
During the time the diary was written, Kastur was witnessing history being made and observing and understanding the process and on her own participating in it, too. It tells of her two imprisonments in 1933, caused not because she was Bapu’s spouse but because she was offering Satyagraha herself. It distinctly conveys the character of a simple woman, her simple understanding and her simple actions. It was her simplicity that made it easy for people to forget her and made her a ‘forgotten woman’. One hundred and fifty-one years after her birth, this book finally showcases Kastur, a woman of substance.
There are pages describing both her prison stays and her anxiety for Bapu’s health when she hears while she is in prison that he has started fasts. Others describe her youngest son’s marriage and talk happening between Pandit Nehru, Acharya Kripalani and Bapu, and of her attending the Congress convention. So, there is a wealth of information both personal and about what was happening on the national stage.
The diary, translated from Gujarati by Tushar Gandhi, will include a historical narrative of events that were taking place as Ba was writing her diary. The book will include a gallery of never-before-seen photographs of Kastur and the family.(UNI)