I could not trust my ears and stared with a dumb expression at my friend. He was emphatic: “You just try and find out if I am telling you the truth.”
He held up a small bottle containing sparking liquid. “Put only three drops of this magic potion on any inanimate thing and it will spring to life.”
Disbelief would just not disappear from my face, although like Gandhiji my friend also had taken a vow never to tell a lie. Maybe, he was making a mistake.
As if reading my thoughts, the friend drove home the point further. “I will tell you what you could do. Just go to any statue standing in a public place, put three drops of the potion into the statue’s left ear and see what happens.”
He was so insistent I thought I had no option but to try. There being any number statues of any manner of people all over the country, it was easy enough. The question now was of choosing a proper candidate in an appropriate place.
It occurred to me why not try the potion on the Mahatma’s statue, standing at the Income Tax Circle on Ahmedabad’s Ashram Road? On his return from South Africa, Gandhiji had made home in Ahmedabad and founded the Ashram, the first HQ of India’s non-violent freedom
Modelled on a famous woodcut of Nandlal Bose, the statue is beautifully done. With a walking staff in hand, the Mahatma seemed to be in a sombre mood and striding away from the Sabarmati Ashram.
Nevertheless I paused for a jiffy to ponder. Was it proper to carry out this seemingly innocuous experiment on the statue?
No one had objected when some people had bathed the statue of the Apostle of Non-violence with milk to purify it. Later, some other had even applied a blood tilak on its forehead, invoking the Mahatma’s blessings in whatever the cause they were fighting for.
Perhaps, he also would not mind my putting in mere three drops of the potion in the statue’s ear. After all, unlike others I was only verifying the truth of my friend’s claim, a harmless experiment with truth, with no personal or group axe to grid.
I cautiously put the drops into the statue’s left ear. As soon as the drops went in, Bapu came alive.
There was some cramp in his sprightly demeanour, a result of standing in the same rigid position for years. He stretched and yawned. The walking staff in his hand dropped to the ground. Dutifully, I bent down and picked up the staff to hand it back to Gandhiji.
Bapu sanpped: “Not walking staff any more. It would not do. Fetch me a gun. Quick.”