Culture & Society

Love Versus Terror: Mahatma Gandhi’s Fictional Letter To Nathuram Godse

‘You think ill of me but I would think well of you and your family and friends and you would ultimately realise that in this tug of war between terror and love, there could be only one winner: love.’

Love versus terror: Mahatma Gandhi’s fictional letter to Nathuram Godse

Dear Nathu

I sort of knew you would come for me — with a pistol in hand, animus in heart, hate songs on lips and a ‘vision’ for India in the eyes. I knew you would keep making attempt after attempt to account for me. That day when there was an explosion near Prarthana Sabha, I knew that my end was nigh. Patel was a realist who cautioned me and proposed beefed up security but I refused for reasons I am going to detail. I know you have tonnes of patience. After all, it must have taken your organisation a lot of patience, planning, mobilisation and coordination to execute my liquidation. Listen to me patiently. You could raise an issue if you so wish.

Nathu, I refused security cover because it would have been a climbdown and even betrayal of what I had advocated and practised all along. You must have seen a tortoise. It has a defensive covering called carapace and sensing danger, it withdraws itself into its protective confines. Human beings are not tortoises, Nathu. Howsoever hard we might wish, we could not go back to our mother’s womb. We must stand up to what we call an injustice. My belief in Satyagraha and Ahimsa did not stem from a sense of tactics but from deeply held conviction. 

Nathu, terror is as universal as love is. For every act of terror, there are acts of unconditional love, sacrifice, reconciliation and accommodation. Human beings have always risen above their immediate concerns to defeat hatred and haters, terror and merchants of terror.

Nathu, how does one defeat terror? One, through acts of love and affection. You think ill of me but I would think well of you and your family and friends and you would ultimately realise that in this tug of war between terror and love, there could be only one winner: love. But one more way to defeat terror is that you refuse to be terrorised. 

On that cold night when they threw me out of the first-class coach at Peter Maritzburg in South Africa, I was alone and I kept thinking. The more I thought, the more convinced I became that submission to terror is to enter into a bargain for which human beings have not been created. So when you fired at me, I was not terrorised. I will die, you will die but this war between terror and love is universal. I ask the brave men and women of my country to refuse to be terrorised.

Nathu, you and your ideology want to kill me because you are innocent of religion and the civilisational mosaic of India. You bring power into religion, turning religion into a tool to grab power. Religion for you means nothing. And your idea of Hindutva is as harmful as the idea of Pakistan. Both seek uniformity, advocate assimilation, prefer regimentation, fear coexistence and fantasise about a dangerous Utopia of a single religion acting as the ultimate arbiter of human ventures.

As you wish to kill me, I would be gone sooner than later. You are not immortal either. But this civilisation has been ceaseless. The day Indians would begin alienating themselves from its moorings, India of my dreams would be done in and done for. But I have seen my fellow countrymen from close quarters. I trust their native wisdom. They could give in to temporary bouts of insanity but I am sure they would retrace their steps.

Nathu, when you kill me, I will go down with “Hey Ram” on my lips. My frail body will not survive the sense of finality that your bullets represent. And still, I will survive you just as you will survive me. Inside every Indian would be a Gandhi and a Nathu competing for gaining prominence. I do not say I am all good and you are all evil. But this war would be fought for a long time and every Indian will have to come to terms with this question.

I have unbounded faith in men, women and above all, children of our India.

Tumhara (Yours)

(Sanjay Kumar is based in Patna. His interest includes this and that.)