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Saturday, 10th January, 1948.

Steely resolve to fight His strange grace

As incidents of lawlessness stemming from communal intolerance had turned Delhi into a garrison city, the Mahatma''s personal and social sensitivities lay ripped open and wounded at the sight of what was happening. He was caught in the vortex of a terrible conflict churning his mind. Repeatedly, he told himself that not a leaf in the universe would fall from its attachment to the tree but in obedience to the Almighty''s over-arching imperial will and power. Whatever was happening, and however much it harrowed his heart, that happened only by leave of Almighty God''s abundant grace. But then what strange grace was He up to, by permitting terrible violence and destruction to spread amongst His ignorant children? So said the Mahatma question, and restlessly and desperately, wonder.

Bapu''s knowledge of God''s power and dominion did not prevent the saint from resteeling his own resolve to prevent the calamities from growing worse, and positively to do everything he could to turn back their tide. This resolve he was bent on carrying out even if it meant having to contend against the Almighty''s will itself! Wherefore, did he add some significant words in the letter mentioned above. The Mahatma wrote, ``But, I have to do or die here. Those who believe that Delhi can be saved by arms are greatly mistaken. Whether it be Delhi, or the whole world, the only thing that can save all of us is amity flowing from the heart. I have no time for all that has to be done. There is a heap of letters to be answered. So, only this much for today!''''

Amt-us-Salam, the young Muslim girl doing peace work in Noakhali, had written to Gandhiji displaying a welter of angst, woe, and anger at what had come about to divide the Hindus and Muslims of India. In consequence of that division, she herself had suffered much: her brothers and family had to leave their home in native Patiala and India, and flee to Pakistan. Their whereabouts were not known. To Amtus in agony, thus Gandhiji replied, ``Your letter is full of anger. Anger seems to be the food on which you subsist. Let it be. Can one help one''s own nature? I have never felt that you are a Muslim, and that I am a Hindu. The only feeling I have is that you are A.S. and that I am Gandhi. Where our ``atmans'''' are concerned, we are one. In my view, you are the moving spirit behind whatever peace has been achieved in Noakhali. It was, and still is, your most significant work. Only you can sustain it. Wherever you stand, you stand in the capacity of my daughter, do you not? What can be done if you hold a different view, despite my opinion that you should forget all about Patiala? Blessings, from Bapu.''''

A delegation from Saurashtra, including Mr. Balwantrai Mehta, wanted Bapu''s help to make the dedicated and well-known educationist, Mr. Nrisimha Prasad Kalidas Bhatt, Chief Minister of Bhavgar. Bapu disagreed and said, ``He will not shine more by becoming Chief Minister. You should have Nanabhai as your counsellor, even as Sage Vashishtha was in Rama''s Rajya. He will not fit well in the seat of power. His place can and be in the field of education. If everyone becomes the Chief Minister, who will then make up the subjects? Just as the Ministers should be educated, so too should the people be educated. Only if the people are so educated, will they keep the Ministers on their toes, and ensure real freedom.''''

Mr. Arthur Henderson, British Secretary for Air, and Mr. Malcom MacDonald, Governor-General of Malaya, called on the Mahatma on their way to London via New Delhi, and proffered their admiration on the way he was striving to restore peace and harmony in post- Partition India. After prayers on Friday evening, Bapu explained why he was living in Birla House. He said, ``I came here at a time when Delhi was in the grip of communal rioting. The town looked like a graveyard. Bhangi Colony had become crowded with refugees. It was feared that anything might happen anywhere. Sardar Patel said that he would not allow me to live there. So, they moved me to Birla House. I did not object, because I cannot make do without a room. There had to be an office and a kitchen, and moreover there are people living with me. Hence I am in Birla House. I am also within easy reach of the Ministers. They do not send for me. Out of their kindness they themselves come to see me. It takes them only two minutes to come. Muslim brethren also find it easy to come here while they are scared of going to Bhangi Colony, with goondaism ruling the streets. Anyone going on a bicycle is pulled down and his belongings are snatched away. Even those travelling in cars are stopped and looted. Such is our present plight. This is a matter of great shame.''''