Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

We had originally gone in a light car arid the

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We had originally gone in a light car, arid the peasants were so keen that hundreds of them, working overnight, built temporary roads across the fields so that our car could go right into the interior. Often the car got stuck and was bodily lifted out by scores of willing hands. But we had to leave the car eventually and to do most of our journeying by foot. Everywhere we went we were accompanied by policemen, Criminal Investigation Department men, and a deputy collector from Lucknow. I am afraid we gave them a bad time with our continuous marching across fields, and they were quite tired out and fed up with us and the {zsans. The deputy collector was a somewhat effeminate youth from Lucknow, and he had turned up in patent leather pumps! He begged us sometimes to restrain our ardor, and I think he ultimately dropped out, being unable to keep up with us. It was the hottest time of the year, June, just before the monsoon. The sun scorched and blinded. I was quite unused to going out in the sun, and ever since my return from England I had gone to the hills for part of every summer. And now I was wandering about all day in the open sun with not even a sun hat, my head being wrapped in a small towel. So full was I of other matters that I quite forgot about the heat, and it was only on my return to Allahabad, when I noticed the rich tan I had developed, that I remembered what I had gone 59
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through. I was pleased with myself, for I realized that I could stand the heat with the best of them and my fear of it was wholly unjustified. I have found that I can bear both extreme heat and great cold without much discomfort, and this has stood me in good stead in my work as well as in my periods in prison. This was no doubt due to my general physical fitness and my habit of taking exercise, a lesson I learned from my father, who was a bit of an athlete and, almost to the end of his days, continued his daily exercise. His head became covered with silvery hair, his face was deeply furrowed and looked old and weary with thought, but the rest of his body, to within a year or two of his death, seemed to be twenty years younger. Even before my visit to Partabgarh in June 1920, I had often passed through villages, stopped there and talked to the peasants. I had seen them in their scores of thousands on the banks of the Ganges during the big melasj and we had taken our home rule propaganda to them. But somehow I had not fully realized what they were and what they meant to India. Like most of us, I took them for granted. This realiza tion came to me during these Partabgarh visits, and ever since then my mental picture of India always contains this naked, hungry mass. These peasants took away the shyness from me and taught me to speak in public.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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