Gandhi can arguably be deemed to one of the pioneers of postcolonialism. He at least started a counter movement to Westernization in industrial, cultural and spiritual terms. He succeeded in it in a very non-modern way of non-violence. Or he may just be an anticolonialist. But it doesn't really matter here. He's my hero in either way.
So imagine my surprise when I learned about Gandhi's tragic episode with his son, Harilal. The movie "Gandhi, My Father" in 2007 depicts, I would say, "psychological violence" of Gandhi to his own son. (I only saw a fragment of the movie in the Japanese National Television (NHK), though).
The Independent explains the episode briefly.
Certainly, in India at least, some details of the difficult relationship between Gandhi and the eldest of his four sons are already known. Born in 1888, Harilal was refused permission by Gandhi to study law as he himself had done. To the London-educated Gandhi, preventing his son from following in his academic footsteps was an act of honourable defiance against the Western education system he had come to reject and he did not believe his son required such preparation for a life he presumed would be devoted to the struggle for freedom.
Yet Harilal rebelled against his father's influence and, perhaps, his exaltation by others as a man who could do no wrong. Later he converted to Islam and took the name Abdullah Gandhi in a move that many have seen as an act of rebellion against his father rather than a genuine religious conversion. He also sought to remarry after his wife's death, something of which his father did not approve.
In one bitter letter to his father, Harilal wrote: "In your laboratory of experiments, unfortunately, I am the one truth that has gone wrong ... Yours Harilal." Elsewhere, he wrote of the man whom Indians knew as "Bapu" or father: "He is the greatest father you have... but he is the one father I wish I did not have."
Shocking as it was, the episode was somewhat strangely understandable to me. Perhaps I knew this kind of dark side is what it takes to be "Mahatma."
The movie is available in DVD.