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Saturday, 17th January, 1948

''Friendship should replace enmity''

In his seventy-ninth year, and not commanding a doughty physical frame, in elan and mischievous good humour Bapu showed he was yet standing up very well to the rigours of the continuing fast. He told Mira Behn in his letter to her on Friday:

This letter I am dictating immediately after my 3-30 a.m. prayer, and taking the meal which a fasting man can take. Don''t be shocked! The ''food'' consists of eight ounces of hot water sipped with difficulty. You sip it as poison, well knowing that in result it is nectar. It revives me whenever I take it. Strange to say, this time I am able to take daily about eight times this poisonous-tasting, but nectar-like, meal. Yet I claim to be fasting, and credulous people accept it. What a strange world.!

Commending Mira Behn''s work in the Ashram towards raising the lot of the cow which Hindus hold sacred, the Mahatma told his English-born disciple (known as Madeleine Slade before she became Mira Behn) I see you are destined for serving the cow and nothing else. But I seem to see a vital defect in you. You are unable to cling to anything finally. You are a gypsy, never happy unless you are wandering! You will not become an expert in anything in this way. Don''t rush here, just because I am fasting. The yajna, as I have called it, demands that everyone, wherever he or she is, should perform his or her duty. If an appreciable number of people do this, I must survive this ordeal. Trust God, and be where you are.

Referring to the Government of India''s revised decision to release a payment of Rs. 55 crores to Pakistan without linking the matter to the Kashmir dispute, Bapu said, It is never a light matter for a responsible Cabinet to alter a set policy. Yet our Cabinet in Delhi, responsible in every sense of the term, has with equal deliberation, and yet promptness, unsettled a settled fact. In the midst of insanity should not our best representatives retain sanity and bravely prevent a wreck of the ship of State? My fast changed their outlook. Without it, they could not go beyond what the law permitted, and what it required them to do. But the present gesture of the government of India is one of unmixed goodwill, and it has put the Government of Pakistan on its honour. This ought to lead to an honourable settlement not only of the Kashmir question, but of all the differences between the two countries.

Friendship should replace the present enmity between them. Demands of equity supersede the letter of the law. This is a maxim which has been in practice for centuries in England: that, when common law seems to fail, equity comes to the rescue. Considered in this setting, there is no room for questioning the utter justice of this act of the Government of India. I have been asked to end my fast because of this great act of the Government. I wish I could persuade myself to do so. I know my medical friends are getting more and more anxious as the fast is prolonged. But I did not embark upon the fast after consultation with the medical men, be they however able! My sole guide, even dictator, is God, the Infallible and Omnipotent. If He has any further use for this frail body of mine, He will keep it in spite of the prognostications of the medical men and women. I am in His hands. Therefore, I dread neither death nor permanent injury even if I survive.

Bapu''s condition had worsened on the fifth day. The doctors said in their bulletin, Mahatma Gandhi is definitely weaker and has begun to feel heavy in the head. This is significant since his kidneys are not functioning well. In our opinion, it will be most undesirable to let his fast to continue. Therefore it is our duty to tell the people of all communities to take immediate steps to produce the requisite conditions for ending the fast without further delay.

Sheer will-power and indomitable faith in Rama Nama was enabling the Mahatma yet to show unbelievable stamina.

Today was like any other normal day. He was up for work from 3.30 a.m. After being helped with his ablutions, he prayed, and called for his letters waiting to be answered. He dictated a few replies but did not have the time to look at the written versions for correction before they were despatched.