Gandhi Ji And A Coffee Drinker


      Gandhiji was a first class nurse to the sick. Where he picked up nursing was a mystery. He certainly did not pass through a nursing school. As in many other things, when nursing became necessary to him in life, he learned it the hard way of experinence. In the Ashram at Sabarmati all sick persons came directly under his eye and care. Doctors were, of course, consulted; but the care of the sick Gandhiji arranged in person. It was a joke, especially among young people in the Ashram, that if you wanted to see Gandhiji everyday and talk to him and hear him crack jokes, you had only to be ill and get into bed ! For Gandhiji visited the sick everyday, spent a few minutes at every bed-side, himself saw to things carefully and never failed to crack a joke or two with the patient. There was no day too busy for Gandhiji to attend sick person.

      Once there was a young lad who went down with dysentery. He had done his best to accustom himself to Ashram food, but failed. He had a great liking for coffee. But in the Ashram there was no coffee for him nor was coffee allowed. In good time he got rid of his dysentery and was now recovering. Gandhiji visited him for a few minutes were like a tonic to the poor lad.
      He pined for a cup of good coffee. One day he was lying on his back dreaming of it, when he heard the welcome sound of the wooden sandals of Gandhiji. A minute later Gandhiji entered with his never failing smile and cheering word.
      He looked at the lad and said: “Now you are decidedly better. You must have recovered your appetite. What would you like to eat? Ah ! some good, uppama or thosai?”
     Gandhiji evidently knew all about the lad’s partiality for these two good old South Indian dishes. gandhiji was laughing. The youngster had a sudden brain-wave.
      “Could I have a cup of coffee, please, “Oh, you old sinner, that is what you want !” And than seeing the look on the lad’s face, he added, “You certainly shall have your cup of coffee. Yes, light coffee will soothe your stomach. And what will you have with the coffee? I don’t think we can make Uppama or Thosai, but warm toast would go well with coffee. I shall send you a tray.”
      With that, and a kind parting word, Gandhiji left the room. The lad lay waiting. He could not believe his good luck. Coffee in Sabarmati Ashram ! And Gandhiji himself offering to send it in to him !
      Gandhiji’s cottage was the other end of the Ashram, a good way across the road. The lad could well imagine what would happen. Gandhiji would go to Kasturba in her kitchen and ask for coffee and toast. But it was an untimely hour. The kitchen would be closed. Ba herself would be taking rest. Had he Gandhiji too much botheration? Some twenty minutes passed. Hard ! What was that sound? The click-click of Gandhiji’s wooden sandals again. Had the coffeebeen called off? His heart sank within him. But there was Gandhiji carrying a tray covered with a white khadi napkin. The lad was dazed. What had really happened?
      Gandhiji was speaking, “Now, here is your coffee and toast. And, mind you, I made the coffee myself. Now, like a good South Indian, will you certify I can make good coffee?”
      “But, whispered the lad, “why did you not ask someone else to bring this for me? I am so very I put you to this troumble.”
      “Now, now” , said Gandhiji, “do not ruin your coffee. Cold Coffeeis bad coffee. You see Ba was resting, and I did not dare to distrub her.” And then he said suddenly, “Well, I shall leave you now. Someone will come for the tray.” With that off he went.
      The coffee was light, but excellent. The lad sipped as if it were nectar. But he was troubled. His mind’s eye saw Gandhiji opening the kitchen, lighting the stove, making the coffee and toast and carrying it to him, all in order not to disturb others at that untimely hour. He was overwhelmed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.