Review: The Secret Diary of Kasturba


In giving voice to a person who is simultaneously a household name and a mystery and fictionalising her life, The Secret Diary of Kasturba takes a bold step. Written as a series of journal entries by Kasturba Gandhi, the book is also about the intimate, familial side of a man who has largely been mythologised as “the Father of the Nation”.

Without treating anyone with undue reverence — be it the titular character, her husband or their children — the book imagines the turbulent life of the Gandhis. Dalmia Adhar adheres accurately to history in terms of names, dates and encounters, but fills in the gaps of Kasturba’s story.

She reimagines Gandhi as the truant boy, the teen struggling with desire and guilt, the cold, dominating husband who could, at times, be cruel and violent, the father who saw every Indian as his child. We also see moments where Kasturba wonders at Gandhi’s ability to treat his children with his own brand of home medicine, at the way he
picked up his share of household chores and the rare glimpses of familial affection. Read more