Brazen Princess

Loud and Unashamed
APRIL 30, 2012 5:48AM

Gandhi - A love story (?)

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Alysa wrote about her favorite love story of all time in a movie – Cyrano (I agree, the story is very romantic). There are so many love stories that picking one out from a Hollywood movie is difficult.

The one I would choose is one that is  a love story about a child bride and her shy husband, both with eyes to see their future as a good thing, rather than one they inherited by accident.  Their story is not seen as a love story when people hear it, but it is one of endurance, strength, dream sharing and surrender to the greater good of the world, not just their family. 

It is the story of two kids from India, who then became British, and finally South Africans, when they decided to move back  to India to step into their destiny. 

Mohandas Gandhi is commonly known as Mahatma or "Great Soul", an honorific given before he left South Africa for India in 1914.  In India they call him Bapu (Father), the honored Father of the Nation.  October 2, his birthday is commemorated as a world-wide as the International Day of Non-Violence.  You know what they say about all great men: behind every one of them is a woman…shaking her head and rolling her eyes; “Yeah, I know who you really are, dude.”

In May 1883, the 13-year-old Mohandas was married to 14-year-old Kasturba, in an arranged child marriage, something that was not uncommon in the Hindu culture at the time.  In the process, he actually got behind in school, distracted by the ceremonies relating to marriage and family obligations of a husband.

 "As we didn't know much about marriage,” Ghandi once said, “for us it meant only wearing new clothes, eating sweets and playing with relatives."  However, as was prevailing tradition, the adolescent bride was to spend much time at her parents' house, and away from her husband.  Their marriage was meant to begin when the family began to see attraction in either partner begin to blossom – for anyone. 

 In 1885, when Gandhi was 15, the couple's first child was born, but lived only a few days.  The grief given to the young couple so early in their marriage was not a common one, even if child mortality rates were more prevalent then.  Imagine losing your first child so early in your marriage.  It caused a strain on the young couple, particularly because Mohandas’ father had also died earlier that year.


Not long after the Gandhis had another son, Harilal, Mohandas boarded a ship bound for England to study law.   He followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a barrister, but leaving his bride to mother their child without him for quite awhile. Upon returning as a barrister, Mohandas found that his mother had died.  He and his wife had three more children, and moved to South Africa, during the height of Apartheid.

In the movie Gandhi  the unique story between this husband and wife, was one of self-sacrifice.  I found it completely in the face of what we see as romance.  In the movie, their eye contact was the substitute for the sex scenes… primarily because the Hindu see open displays of affection as obscene.  

Much has been written about the Mahatma’s sexuality, especially in the west.  All of the ones that have survived until today, kept in a family trust, are written in English, but filled with Indian idioms.  Because of this,  much has been misunderstood in translations.  Recently, a deep friendship he had with Hermann Kallenbach, a German friend and business associate, was taken and distorted by a Western author, alluding that Gandhi was gay or bisexual.  It’s enough to make you ask: was this love story really a love story? But it was.  I have grown to realize that what people say about another couple outside of the marriage is speculation: especially a couple as private as the Gandhis.

Their story is particularly romantic for me because you could see the movement was a family one: to change a nation, it takes more than good ideas, it takes families working together against injustice.  It begins with the team of husband and wife, standing together against adversity, usually at the cost of their freedoms, comfort and possibly even their family togetherness. 

So many of us see romance as candlelight dinners, walks on the beach, love and sparkles in the eyes….great sex that follows.  Real romance?  Try fighting an unjust cause with your soul mate who regards you as a powerful equal.  That is a true aphrodisiac….  Also, each partner may feel, at times, neglected by the other.  Second, even, to the cause in front of them.  A romance that endures is forgiving, patient, supportive through all of this.  That is what makes true love be true love, as opposed to Hollywood’s version of it. 

I look at these two kids, stuck together by culture and family, and see (at the end of their story) the love that lasted through decades of loneliness and change and discomfort.  That is real love, and with it, at times, comes romance…not the other way around.


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Your explination of romance vs Hollywood's is right on. What a love story!
I'm so glad my open call inspired you! And what a great post it inspired! Interestingly, I wouldn't have thought of Gandhi associated with romance, but this post definitely puts his life in a new perspective. It reminds me of John and Abigail Adams - that idea of constance and self-sacrifice in a relationship. Thank you for writing this.

Oh - one little nit-picky thing about what is probably the least important detail in your entire post: I don't particularly like the movie version of "Cyrano de Bergerac" - for me, it's the play, and my own imagination. Again, that is of very, very little importance compared to what you wrote here.

Thank you again for answering the OC - and doing it so wisely and well.
Swallowtail~ A very big thank you for seeing the main heart of my post!!

Alysa~ A great Open call - and it is my view that the movie (the French version with Gerard DePardue) or the play should be seen in FRENCH - where Cyrano's wit is the most appreciated, because of the sheer poetic rhythm and rhyme.
I am reminded of own grand parent's the extent that it was arranged. My grandmother had four children...and several that she miscarried. She respected my grandfather, but her passion was for another. I have written about it in a story entitled: UNDER THE PRINT DRESS. They were married for 60 plus years. I believe I am the only one who knew about the other man who danced with her in her dreams.
I am sorry, that I skipped the meat of my comment, in my previous post, which was to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed your essay. I knew nothing of Mahatmas life. Am encouraged to get a few books from the library and learn more. Thank you.
M. Gandhi has been one of my most admired characters in history, but this. . . Brazen Princess, this is what a great love is all about, nothow it is reflected in most movies produced in Holywood. Thank you for sifting through and coming up with the gold. It's a beautiful story you've told.
Fascinating and soulful. Rated.
You answered this with thought. And I agree. The best love stories are more often seen at the end of a life-long relationship.
"Try fighting an unjust cause with your soul mate who regards you as a powerful equal." Wonderfully stated, Janet, and a definite non-Hollywood love story.
I think you have done a magnificent job of describing real love. Brilliant. It might even be nice to find such some day.
I've always loved Gandhi's story. Nice job detailing his marriage and love story.
Families in India have been extended partnerships for centuries... Ghandi's life and achievements overshadow this and you're right to point out the importance of Kasturba and their family. It would be intriguing and illuminating to see the experience of India's rebirth as a nation through their eyes.
Soul mates, definitely soul mates.
Loved this. In college I had a framed picture of Ghandi on my nightstand. People thought I was weird.
A romance that includes the fate of a nation can't be beat. A beautiful telling of their story.
Fascinating. I was unaware.
Ande~ A beautiful (two) comment! I will have to read about the Print Dress ... I'll return to your blog to do so...

Fusun~ A delight to have you back! Gandhi is easy to admire....

Jonathan~ How wonderful to see you here! Thank you for reading...

jlsathre~ thank you for noticing...a high compliment coming from you!

Erica~ Thank you, dear one. GORGEOUS last post...

Deborah~ Thank you so much for reading. I love researching Indian history from and Indian's all of my sources are from there.

Mary~In a perfect world, you would marry a prince that loves you with the deepest love...and I'd dance at your wedding!

jmac~I couldn't agree more...and you can tell that from an Indian perspective there would be more truth than speculation...

nilesite~Thank you for coming by!! A delight that you read this...for me!

Mimetalker~Such an artist!! I used to have the same comments for my pic of Edgar Alan Poe.

Miguela~ Your comment says it all!! Nice to see you...

Matt~ So glad you enjoyed it... Thank you!