One day, after the evening prayer, a unique conversation took place between Kasturba and Gandhiji in the Phoenix Ashram, regarding their household.. The South African Government had declared all the marriages, performed according to the Hindu, Muslim or Parsee rites, illegal under a new law.
Bapu said, “Are you listening? You are not my married wife from today.”
Ba answered, “How could you talk like this? You keep finding new notions every day!”
Bapu then said, “I do not say this, General Smuts says. According to the new law of his Government, our Hindu, Muslim and Parsee marriages, which are not registered according to Christian rites, have become illegal, and therefore our wives have become mistresses!”
Ba said, “Did he say so? How could he think that way?”
Gandhiji said, “But, what will you all women do now?”
Ba replied, “What can we do?”
Gandhiji asked, “Why? You also should fight as we men fight. You also get ready to go to jail for the sake of your reputation.”
Ba questioned, “How can ladies go to jail?”
Gandhiji said, “Why not? Whatever happiness and sorrow the men suffer, why can’t women endure the same? Sitaji went to forest after Rama, Taramati after Harishchandra, and Damyanti after Nal. They all suffered infinite grievances.”
Ba told with a smile, “You want to send me to the jail right? Only that is left now! But, would the jail food suit me? Would they permit me to have fruits?”
Gandhiji said, “If they don’t, till that time you fast.”
Ba said, “The way you showed me is to die.”
Gandhiji then burst into laughter and said, “If you die in the jail, I will worship you like Jagadamba (Mother Goddess).”
Kasturba announced her resolution, “Put my name first in all the Satyagrahis.”
And, in fact, Ba was really in the forefront of the first
troop of sixteen Satyagrahis.
The fortunate Ba passed away in Bapu’s lap during their imprisonment in the Aga khan Palace on February 22, 1944. That was at the time of the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942. Even Gandhiji, who had cultivated extreme detachment, wept and dropped a couple of tear-pearls at the time of Ba’s passing away.