We fondly remember the picture of our father of the Nation where a little boy is leading him by pulling his stick on a walk along the beach. That little boy was Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, son of his third child Ramdas.
After a stint of over 40 years in United States, the little boy now Kanubhai Ramdas Gandhi, 87 and his wife Dr. Shiva Laxmi Gandhi, 85 reside in a small old-age-home at the outskirts of the Indian capital, New Delhi.
“People have their ups and downs,” says Ms. Gandhi. “We destroyed everything that we had and we came here. It’s a long story. We are searching for a place where we can meet interesting people. We are searching if there is any old-age home for NRIs here,” she states. The couple says they have “reasonable” money to opt for such a facility if made available to them. However Ms. Gandhi does not like to be referred as homeless, “We are not homeless. We are just a little clueless,” she says, “We don’t have a bowl in our hands. We don’t want money, we just want prayers. I am quite capable of getting us out if we were in the US, but here we do not know to navigate”.
The couple was leading a comfortable life in Hampton, United Sates. After studying in US's Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Kannubhai worked in the defence department and NASA while his wife was a professor and then a research scholar in Boston, and later left the job to do research at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute.
The couple reminisces old days when they use to travel around the country and were invited to attend lot of parties. Then with sad voice they come in terms to the fact that now they are here. Holding his husbands hand Ms. Gandhi said “We are in a valley just now, and we are going to climb out of it”. The couple does not have children and have lived almost all their lives in the US.
In 2014, he said, they came to India to be reunited with their own people but instead they ended up feeling disheartened and clearly uncomfortable in a home for the old and the homeless. After going from one ashram to the next, the couple finally came to Delhi on the May 8 from Sabarmati in Gujarat and found a place to live in the Guru Vishram Vridh Ashram of Delhi. The couple shares a single air-conditioned room, which is otherwise available for extremely sick patients. The home has four toilets in total and houses 130 inmates along with 40 helping hands. Dr Shiva Laxmi said, "We want to be in an environment where we can talk to other intellectual people, discuss ideas but it's too late to go back to USA".
After the news of their stay hit the media, the Indian Prime Minister Modi talked to Kanubhai Gandhi on phone. The Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma went to meet him in the old age home, and ensured that Prime Minister has directed to make the stay of the couple comfortable.
"PM and Kanubhai had a long conversation. They spoke in Gujarati and had a very pleasant discussion," PMO said in a tweet.
Later Mr. Gandhi said that he is an "old follower of PM Modi and he (Modi) remembered all the help I had extended to him. At that time Sonia Gandhi was against both of us," he said, adding that "Modi understood everything in Gujarati".