Gandhi Comes Alive

His Daily Life


OF all the incidents in Bapu's long career, to me, the richest and profoundest is the ever-recurring incident of his daily-life; By this I do not mean the fact that he gets up at 4 or 3.30 in the morning, has prayers twice a day, eats unspiced food, and so on. Others also do this. It is the way he does everything. Whenever I am with Bapu I love to sit near him in silence for a while each day. Not when he is meeting people and carrying on discussions, but when he is alone. I know nothing more exquisitely gentle than the touch of Bapu's hand, and I am never tired of watching him handling his writing work. Nothing is ruffled or damaged by. his bands, and nothing is wasted. I watch Bapu is absorbed in his thoughts. He softly takes a piece of paper to write a letter. Though small, it is yet bigger than he requires for his concise communications, so he carefully folds it, and then divides it 41 two. It is now about 3 inches broad and 5 inches long, and on this he writes .a11 he needs to say. Again he looks for something. There is a little khadi case with stationery in it. This he gently opens and extracts an envelope, addresses it, slips into it the written sheet, and puts it into a little basket, kept for outgoing letters. The next communication" is evidently to !be still shorter, and he takes up a post card. It is not a fountain pen which he is using; some misfortune happened to his last one, since when he writes with an ordinary nib" and holder. The ink-pot is one of Bapu's little patents, and consists of a tiny balm bottle fixed in a wooden stand which also carries pen and pencils. The little old tin screw top of the balm bottle Bapu most delicately puts off and on every time he uses his "ink-stand". The post card is now finished and slipped into the basket. Again he turns to the khadi stationery case. It is evidently an article that he is going to write, because he extracts a number of odd sheets, with writing on one side, but unused on the other. These are his "pusti" sheets, carefully I collected from the !blank page on the backs of letters and other communications which come In endless numbers by each post. Bapu begins to write. The article seems to be of a serious nature, probably on some burnirig problem of the day, for a concentrated, even stern, look appears on his countenance. Before the article is finished he begins to feel sleepy. The pen is laid in the stand, and the tiny tin top is placed on the balm bottle. The "pusti" sheets are carefully put on one side, and Bapu turns and lies down on his gaddi. He removes his glasses, places them by the side of his pillow, and in one or two minutes he is fast asleep, and breathing as peacefully as a little chilld.

I take up a handkerchief and, sitting near his head, keep off the flies.

Such times are for me infinitely precious, infinitely sweet, and filled with a profound teaching which could never be conveyed in words.

On one such occasion, when I was sitting near Bapu, he could not find his pencil, a little stump which he had been cherishing. A whisper went round that Bapuji was hunting' for his pencil. Members of the staff began to search about. It could not be found anywhere, so some- body brought him a new pencil. "No," said Bapu, "I want my .little stump." So somebody brought him another stump. "Do you expect me to be satisfied with somebody else's stump?" he said. "Supposing you had lost your child, would you be satisfied if somebody brought you another child and said, 'take this one instead'?" After that a desperate hunt was made, and at last the little stump was found and triumphantly brought to Bapu, who received it with a beaming smile.

There is only one real Gandhi Ashram. in the whole world, and that is the few square feet containing Bapu's gaddi and little writing desk.

Pashulok (U.P.), 24-1-1948