Gandhi Comes Alive

Small Things I Learnt From Him

-Kishorelal Mashruwala

DO not exactly remember the occasions on which I learnt several small things from Gandhiji. I shall just mention what they are.

  • This was perhaps when I met him for the first time in Champaran in 1917. He asked me to copy out a passage from the Indian Year Book on a sheet on foolscap paper. As the paper was larger than I needed I folded it up, made a crease by passing my fingers over it, and began to tear it along the crease. Gandhiji stop- ed me, and asked me to cut it with a knife. "When you tear along a crease with your hands," he said, "fibres appear along the edges. They jar upon the eye. You should make it a rule always to divide the paper with a paper-cutter or an ordinary knife."
  • Once he showed me how to open up the flap of an envelope, the gum of which had got stuck. He introduced a fountain pen into a slight opening under the flap, and quickly rolled it round the edge. He said: "Do you see how it opens up without injuring the paper? This is a method which everyone should know."
  • He was displeased if he saw a letter placed in an envelope with irregular folding. He said: "When you fold your letter you must see that the edges coincide properly and the fold is regular. An irregular folding creates a .bad impression upon the receiver about you. It looks slovenly."
  • One of my young nephews lived with me at Sabarmati. He once. tore his clothing during play and then went straight to Bapu's. room. Bapu saw the torn condition of the cloth, and when he saw my wife later he showed his displeasure at it. He said: "One need not be ashamed of clothes repaired with sewing or patches. Poverty in itself is not a matter for shame. But there is no excuse for a person to put on unmended or dirty clothes. A cloth must be repaired as soon as it is torn, and washed if it has become dirty.'
  • I may also mention a habit which I developed, under his influence, to a greater extent than commendable, as it verges on miserliness and disorderliness. It is that of preserving and using bits of paper written on one side, wrappers on book-post packets etc., and used envelopes. Perhaps the instinct of thrift was inherent in me, and it got encouragement by his example. I am not at all proud of it; I rather feel ashamed of the extent to which it has grown. But it seems to have got hardened in spite of my own mental protest against it.
  • Wardha, 31-8-1948