Friday, August 29, 2014

The Nehrus and the Gandhis-PIII

Nehru and Kamala

Part-I link
Part-II link

Nehru held a very modern outlook about marriage, as is evident from the letter to his mother Swarupa Rani, from Harrow –

“There should be no marriage without mutual love. I consider it a crime and a ruination of one’s life, if one has to marry merely for the sake of creating children.” But finally, he had to succumb to the family/social pressures and marry the beautiful Kamala Kaul. Yes, as the author says, it was a marriage of convenience!

Even though I do value Nehru very much and I could sense his internal torment in marrying against his wish, I wonder how he could forget that Kamala was in no way responsible for it. So I couldn’t easily digest that she had to remain a neglected wife most of her life. His autobiography contains only two lines about his marriage, says the author.  The elite, modern, luxurious Anand Bhavan was in no way different from any ordinary Indian household when it came to the in-law problems. Kamala was not at all happy in her husband’s household. Motilal was the only one who loved, supported and defended her.

-Vijayalakshmi(Nehru’s sister), was particularly nasty to the young sister in law. She mocked Kamala’s unfamiliarity with the Western style of Motilal’s household; teased her maliciously because of her unsophisticated ways and constantly told tales about the young woman’s blunders to all and sundry. Kamala felt the torment much more because her husband rarely defended her against her detractors. If Jawaharlal, instead of listening to the inane prattling of Vijayalakshmi, had made it clear that he was not interested in her prejudiced gossip, Kamala would have been a lot happier.” Yes, there lies the point. Well said T.Ali, it is the root of the problem in most Indian families and not only in the Nehru household!

The daughter Indira’s words on Kamala-
-When my father (Nehru) wanted to join Gandhiji and to change the whole way of life, to change our luxurious living, to give up his legal practice, the whole family was against it. It was only my mother’s courageous and persistent support and encouragement which enabled him to take the big step which made such a big difference not only to our family, but to the history of modern India.

-By now, Kamala had become involved in congress politics and was regularly attending meetings and participating in processions. This was the happiest phase of her life. She felt free, independent ad committed to a cause. All the petty squabbles and insults at Anand Bhavan seemed trivial by comparison.

-Ever since Kamala had become involved in politics and ‘come out’, so to speak, she and Nehru had been close friends. Her companionship had become important. 

Kamala died peacefully in February 1936, while Indira was at Somerville College, Oxford and just when Nehru’s “An Autobiography”-which was reprinted nine times that year itself!- was going to press. It was Kamala who pushed him to find a publisher for his book, and settle Indira in a university.

His memoirs on Kamala published in another book ran thus:
 “She was bubbling over with gaiety and frankness before those she knew and liked.....she stuck to her instinctive likes and dislikes. There was no guile in her. If she disliked a person, it was obvious, and she made no attempt to hide the fact. Even if she had tried to do so, she would probably not have succeeded.” Yes, I have no doubts that the guileless, lovely, Kamala was an adorable personality.

T.Ali’s book has not only enhanced my respect and love towards Nehru, but also made me a fan of Kamala, and Feroze Gandhi too! I’m thankful to the author for throwing light on the lovely Kamala’s wonderful personality.

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