MUMBAI: “Somewhere at the age of 15, I read the famous quote ‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’. That was my first encounter with Gandhi in my school textbook. Even at that young age, the thought overwhelmed me. It has stayed with me all along. By the time, I was 25 I had developed a keen interest in philately and also built a decent collection. That was in the year 1969, when I realised that almost 40-50 countries have released postal stamps on this great leader of India. That brought a turning point in my life. I stopped collecting other stamps and I focused only on Gandhi. Stamps led me to Gandhi’s letters and envelops in which letters came to him from all corners of the world. In the meantime several countries started bringing out commemorative coins on Gandhi, he also started appearing on currency notes… it went on and on.”
The journey has not stopped as yet, says Kishore Jhunjhunwala, the 76-year-old retired industrialist who has collected thousands of artefacts related to Gandhi over the past 50 years.
Every piece of this treasure has its own story of how that piece landed up in Jhunjhunwala’s collection. Recently, he was part of the team when a few individuals decided to walk the 240 km stretch from Sabarmati to Dandi on the 89th anniversary of the famous salt march.
He walked all the way and collected postal seals from each of the village post offices on the route of that 24-day yatra.
One can have a look at most of these items at his swanky, sea-facing Bhuleshwar residence, a part of which he has almost converted into a Gandhi museum so that all the artefacts are kept very neatly.
“This is just a part of my entire collection,” Jhunjhunwala says, adding that many of the memorabilia are bigger in size and hence have to be kept in the godown.
Recently he had developed a small exhibition depicting the life story of Gandhiji through various artefacts he had.
“I am just a sweeper. I am cleaning the earth so that all the valuable things would be found in one place,” he says.