Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon
Mahatma Gandhi 12 - A Friendship That Went Sour! - Poem by Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon
At this point,
A flash back reveals
The teenage years of Mohandas,
While in High School,
How a friend persuaded him
To secretly eat meat,
To drink wine,
And smoke cigarettes too!
The friend talked and reasoned with Mohandas thus:
"We are a weak people because we do not eat meat.
The English are able to rule over us,
Because they are meat-eaters!
You know how hardy I am,
How great a runner too.
It is because I am a meat-eater;
Meat eaters do not have boils,
And even if they sometimes happen to have any,
These heal quickly.
Our teachers and other distinguished people
Who eat meat are no fools.
They know its virtues.
You should do likewise!
There is nothing like trying.
Try and see what strength it gives! "
Thus, the friend continued his lectures,
Supported by long and elaborate arguments
And was bent on turning Mohandas into a meat-eater!
The friend was physically stronger and daring,
While Mohandas comparatively feeble-bodied!
The friend could run very fast
And was adept in long and high jumps too.
The friend's exploits cast a spell over Mohandas!
Dazzled by this friend's prowess
Mohandas felt a strong desire to be like him.
The friend also boasted of holding
Live serpents in his hand,
Could defy thieves,
And even ghosts!
All this had great effect on Mohandas
He was completely taken up by his friend's pleas.
The day to experiment with meat arrived,
At a lonely spot beside a river,
For the first time in his life,
Mohandas ate meat along with baker's bread.
He neither liked the meat nor the bread.
‘The goats meat was as tough as leather'
He simply could not eat it
He felt sick and had to leave off eating.
A horrible dream haunted him.
The moment he dropped off to sleep
It seemed a live goat bleated inside him.
He would wake up and jump out of his bed
Feeling sorry for what he had done!
But then, he would remind himself
That meat eating was a duty.
But the friend was persistent and never gave up.
Gandhiji over a period of time got over the dislike.
Then, began eating meat with relish
No more in remote areas but in proper dining halls.
This went on for a year until his conscience pricked him.
Whenever he skipped dinner at home
His mother questioned him and
Every time he was forced to tell a lie.
The time had now come for him to get over
"The passions that flesh is heir to"
He had to understand
That all pleasures need to be sacrificed
In devoted service to the parents
He realised that lying to one's own parents
Was by far, worse than eating meat slyly
Most importantly, he loved his parents most dearly.
The ordinary people
Seemingly speak the truth,
Painted in varied hues,
And iced with creamy bluffs!
A lie takes one through a long journey.
Treading dangerous grounds,
Conniving and manipulating,
To speak hundred other lies!
Poet's Notes about The Poem
It is a period of learning and new discoveries.
Here, it is not predominantly a subject of eating meat or not eating meat. That's an individual choice.
More importantly, it is about doing things behind the back of one's Parents. Once you start doing things secretly and slyly, to protect yourself, you begin to tell lies. And one lie leads to many more lies. That's when things begin to go wrong.
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