LUCKNOW: Claiming a tiny slice of Gandhi history, an optician running a 130-year-old shop says the Mahatma once came to get his glasses repaired there and even wrote a letter of appreciation to his great grandfather.
To Sonu Baijal's great regret, the letter itself got lost during the shop's renovation. But the family's Gandhi connect remains strong, he said with pride.
According to Baijal, the glasses came for repair to the shop during one of Gandhi's visits to the City of Nawabs. "One of the damaged lenses was replaced and some minor repairs were made. A pair of glasses took 10-12 days to be made, as in those days the power of the lenses were imparted manually," he said.
Baijal said Gandhi wrote a letter to his great grandfather appreciating the repair work, but that treasured possession got lost during renovation of the shop. Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi told PTI there is no reason to disbelieve the claim. "I feel that this piece of information will be cherished by people," he said.
Baijal said a unique feature of Mahatma Gandhi's iconic round spectacles was that the frame could be worn from both sides. "The hinges of the spectacles were so flexible that it was virtually a reversible pair, and the frame could be worn from either side," he said, adding that the family has conserved a pair of similar glasses from that era.
Baijal plans to set up a history corner in the shop being run by his family for five generations. He said that the shop will include pre-Independence era glasses, cash memos, letters from customers and the like. Lucknow is the place where Mahatma Gandhi met Jawaharlal Nehru in 1916 for the first time.
He was in the city to attend the Congress session from December 26-30 that year. "The 1916 session witnessed two of Congress stalwarts -- Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru -- meeting for the first time, which perhaps changes the course of Indian politics and history," former Lucknow mayor Dauji said.