A quaint little house stands testimony to the simple, rustic life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Father of our Nation. He was born in Porbandar and lived in this house until his teen years. As you duck when you pass through the short doorways, you wonder how a tiny, frail man could have managed everything that he did. About how he continues to inspire people around the world with his words – written and spoken.
A bus-load of senior citizens clamber up the precarious staircase, holding onto the rope for dear life. They speak a tongue, foreign in these parts but comfortingly familiar to me. I interject their chatter with, “where have you come from?”, in Marathi. A happily surprised smile, a short pause and the dhoti-clad gentleman breaks into Marathi that could only be from Pune. Am from Mumbai, and there is usually a mildly cold war between the two cities of Maharashtra. One, the commercial capital of the state and India. The other, the bastion of all that represents the Marathi warrior.
But in these parts, we bond over the syllables of a common language. I relish the texture of the words being formed in my mouth, and I strain to hear the gurgling sound of my mother tongue from these village folk. Strangely, am comforted by the fact that home is indeed not that far away.
As we amble through the museum and get ready to leave the sunny courtyard, I look back one last time. The lady in the nine yard saree, who had almost not made it to the top floor, mops her forehead with the corner of her pallu. Even though she has skipped the trek to the third floor, she seems satisfied with her tour to a sliver of history.