The Last Birthday

Pyare Lal


The Last Birthday is a poignant account by Mahatma Gandhi’s Secretary Shri Pyare Lal. The reader cannot but feel moved on learning about what all transpired during the Mahatma’s last birthday. On previous years, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday used to be an occasion for joy and rejoicing. But we learn from Pyare Lal Ji’s account that Bapu’s last birthday turned out to be rather a solemn occasion. The Mahatma’s constant refrain before all visitors and well-wishers was that he no longer wanted to live on in an India in flames. To quote Bapu himself, “I do not wish another birthday to overtake me in an India still in flames.” Further, “What sin must I have committed that He should have kept me alive to witness all these horrors?” Naturally the visitors who came in joy went away in a sombre mood. As Pyare Lal Ji informs us, “Recorded the Sardar’s daughter, Manibehn, mournfully that day in her journal: ‘His anguish was
unbearable. We had gone to him in elation; we returned home with a heavy heart.’” All in all a sad account of the Mahatma’s agony, who was once looking forward to live for 125 years!

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