About a year ago, Qudsia Zaidi asked me to write a foreword to a little book about Gandhiji, which she had written especially for children. I pleaded lack of time and a reluctance to accept this suggestion. She was, however, insistent and did not wish to hurry me at all. It became difficult for me to continue to say no to her, because she had put her heart in the little book she had written. It was something much more than a book to her and the story of Gandhi obviously meant a great deal to her.
For a year her manuscript has been with me, a constant reminder of what I was expected, and yet was so reluctant, to do. At last I took this manuscript with me to Sonamarg in the Upper Sind Valley of Kashmir, and there, in sight of the high mountains and the glaciers, I thought again of the story of Gandhi.
Why was I reluctant to write anything on this subject ? I do not quite know myself, but whenever I think of Gandhiji, I have a feeling of inadequacy about myself. Whenever I think of writing about him, the conviction grows that I cannot do any justice to the theme. Those of us, who lived and grew up in the shadow of that personality, had visions of greatness and of many-sided vitality, which cannot easily he expressed to others. It was a personal and powerful experience which moulded
our own lives. How can that personal experience he expressed adequately in
writing ? And so, whatever one writes about Gandhiji, seems trite, rather
insignificant and utterly inadequate.
And yet this generation that had
seen him and touched him and knew him somewhat, will pass away. Indeed it is
passing already. He will be remembered then by records and writings and by
tradition which plays such an important part in the history of a race.
It is four and a half years since
he died. He belongs not only to history but to the myth and legend of India, one
of the great ones who come from time to time to enlighten us and ennoble us and
to fill us with a new vitality.
It is right that our children and
our children's children should know something of this story which has a certain
epic quality about it, and even though they may miss the living presence, yet
they will learn something not only about Gandhiji but about the ancient spirit
and eternal message India, which he represented so magnificently.
I welcome this little book therefore and wish it success.
September 1, 1952