Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

Newspapers did not come to us but some news from

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Newspapers did not come to us, but some news from outside trickled through, as it always manages to trickle through in prison. Our monthly interviews and letters also brought us odd bits o information. We saw that our movement was at a low ebb outside. The magic moment had passed, and success seemed to retire into the dim future. Outside, the Congress was split into two factions the pro-changers and no-changers. The former, under the leadership of Deshbandhu Das and my father, wanted the Congress to take part in the new elections to the central and provincial councils and, if possible, to cap ture these legislatures; the latter, led by C. Rajagopalachari, opposed any change of the old program of nonco-operation. Gandhiji was, of course, in prison at the time. The fine ideals of the movement which had carried us forward, as on the crest of an advancing tide, were being swamped by petty squabbles and intrigues for power. We real ized how much easier it was to do great and venturesome deeds in mo ments of enthusiasm and excitement than to carry on from day to day when the glow was past. Our spirits were damped by the news from outside, and this, added to the various humors that prison produces, increased the strain of life there. But still there remained within us an inner feeling of satisfaction, that we had preserved our self-respect and dignity, that we had acted rightly whatever the consequences. The future was dim, but, whatever shape it might take, it seemed that it would be the lot of many of us to spend a great part of our lives in prison. We settled down to a routine of work and exercise. For exercise we used to run round and round the little enclosure, or two of us would draw water, like two bullocks yoked together, pulling a huge leather bucket from a well in our yard. In this way we watered a small vege table garden in our enclosure. Most of us used to spin a little daily. But reading was my principal occupation during those winter days and long evenings. Almost always, whenever the superintendent visited us, he found me reading. This devotion to reading seemed to get on his nerves a little, and he remarked on it once, adding that, so far as he was concerned, he had practically finished his general reading at the age of twelve! No doubt this abstention on his part had been of use to that gallant English colonel in avoiding troublesome thoughts, and perhaps it helped him subsequently in rising to the position of In spector-General of Prisons in the United Provinces. 90
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The long winter evenings and the clear Indian sky attracted us to the stars, and, with the help of some charts, we spotted many o them. Nightly we would await their appearance and greet them with the satisfaction of seeing old acquaintances.
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