Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon

Mahatma Gandhi 19 - To Make A Speech - Poem by Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon

During the second phase of life in England,
Gandhiji became an ardent and
Keen member of the Vegetarian Society.
He was elected as an executive member too,
However, many more things had to be experienced,
Like, giving a speech before an audience!
But when the turn came for Gandhiji
To give a speech,
He was tongue-tied and
At a loss for words!

Gandhiji's first phase in England was
To acquire as many skills as possible,
In order to equip himself, especially,
As a refined Gentleman of the English society!
This was the time when he enrolled himself
For lessons in French, a language admired in Europe,
Lessons in piano, violin and dancing too!
During the same period,
Gandhiji also joined elocution classes and had
Paid the teacher a preliminary fee of a Guinea!

The teacher had recommended
Bell's ‘Standard Elocutionist' as the textbook,
Which Mohandas had purchased too,
Though he attended only two to three classes!
In spite of all these preparations earlier,
When the time came for Gandhiji to give a speech,
Before the members of the vegetarian society,
Even though he had written it down,
When he stood up to read it,
His visions blurred and his voice trembled.

Dr. Oldfield commented on Gandhiji's
Monotonous speaking tone - 'as a drone'!
Fortunately, that day, the matter was resolved,
As a friend came to his rescue and
Read out the speech on his behalf!
But Gandhiji, in spite of these drawbacks
Continued to attend every one of its meetings,
But he was shy to make a speech,
So, whenever he had to face strange audiences
He avoided making a speech.

Later in life,
When Gandhiji lived and worked in South Africa,
He got over this shyness;
Though he remarked,
That it was not completely gone.
He could not make a speech
Without a preparation.
However, Gandhiji later declared -
The shyness which he was embarrassed about
On the contrary, became an advantage.

Gandhiji wrote:
'My hesitancy in speech which was
Once an annoyance,
Is now a pleasure!
A man of few words,
Will rarely be thoughtless in his speech;
He will measure every word.
My shyness has been in reality my shield.
It has allowed me to grow.
It has helped me in my discovery of truth.'

Topic(s) of this poem: personality

Poet's Notes about The Poem

To face an audience and give a speech, sing or dance is not an easy task at all. This episode in the life of Gandhiji, is a common experience for many people, whether
young or old. To give a speech, without any fear, is a great talent, which only a few can do with success.
I still remember when i was very young, my mother, most enthusiastically, for the first time, had given my name for singing. When my name was announced to walk up to the stage to sing, i was so petrified to face the audience that i took to my heels. My mother kept searching for me, as they repeatedly announced my name. My mother, a spirited lady, was not ready to give up. As i was missing, she went up the stage and sang in my place.
Of course, back home, my mother was very, very angry with me for letting her down so badly and scolded me. This is an episode that is still fresh in my memory.

Comments about Mahatma Gandhi 19 - To Make A Speech by Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon

  • Valsa George (1/17/2016 7:03:00 AM)

    It is natural for many to develop a cold feet when they stand up to face an audience, especially in the initial days! Though Gandhi didn't become an eloquent speaker, his persistence on attending the speech classes continued and later he became a true philosopher, writer and thinker! The closing stanza with which the poem ends, I enjoyed much. From every handicap, we can learn many things and each disability can be turned into an advantage. Enjoyed reading your childhood reminiscences! (Report) Reply

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  • Gajanan Mishra (1/8/2016 9:58:00 AM)

    beautiful, Gandhi- a legend. father of the nation.. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, January 8, 2016

Poem Edited: Thursday, February 18, 2016

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