KADAMBINI and GANDHI:A CONNECTION
NEED TO KNOW THE DETAIL ABOUT Mr H.S.L. Polak,HE IS THE PERSON WHO INITIATED KADAMBINI TO TAKE PART IN TRANSVAAL MOVEMENT.CAN ANYBODY HELP?
Mr H.S.L. Polak
My own recollections of Gandhiji, as I was a child, I am afraid I can remember nothing of the South African period, but am enclosing a short note of a visit we paid to him at his ashram at Ahmedabad, when he was suffering the effects of a fast and accepted my mother's argument that his vow against the consumption of milk referred to cows ‘milk and not goats’ milk, which I hope you may find of some interest.
In 1917 when I was nine years old my mother had brought my brother and myself to India to join my father who had come to that country the previous year with the intention that the united family should after a short visit of my parents to their several friends, proceed to England where my father was proposing to make his permanent home. We were staying in the town house of an Indian friend at Ahmedabad in the early part of the summer and Gandhiji had just completed one of his long fasts which had brought him practically to the end of his physical resources. My father was in Bombay and my mother went to visit Gandhiji at his ashram taking us two boys with her. To this day I can recollect going from the bright sunlight of the courtyard into the comparative darkness of the room in which Gandhiji lay. He was thin and emaciated almost beyond belief and so weak he could scarcely raise his hand, yet there was a gentle luminous serenity about which not only distracted one’ s mind immediately from the signs of physical distress but also seemed totally dis-associated from what was, in fact, a very near approach to death. He greeted us with his characteristic smile, full of affection and cheerfulness he raised his hand slightly in greeting and we stood around the bed talking to him. his mind was quite unclouded and he took an obvious interest in his visitors and what we had to say. My mother was naturally concerned at his condition and spoke to him of the steps he should take to build up his health again, stressing especially the advantage of milk as a diet for one in his weak condition. He then disclosed to her that he had taken a vow against milk and for a little time my mother was silent. Then she said to him that when he had taken his vow he was not thinking of goat’s milk and his vow could not apply to that. Why did he not, therefore, have goat’s milk against which he had taken no vow and which was possibly even more readily assimilated by him. He smiled at the ingenuity of her argument and although she pressed it repeatedly and in many ways he would not immediately commit himself until he had a chance to think it over. He did, however, promise to give it consideration and I can remember how relieved we all felt later to learn that he had accepted her suggestion. When we saw him shortly before leaving Ahmedabad he was well on the road to recovery