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47. Crying Over Spilt Milk
Once Bapuji made a plan. He said that two or three people together should clean all the utensils, turn by turn. He thought that it would help grow togetherness among people; the dislike for cleaning someone else’s dishes would lessen and it would save people’s time also. I didn’t like the plan. I told him, “Washing everybody’s utensils will generate disorder.” Bapu said, “Establishing order within disorder is our job. Come, let me and Ba do it first, and he took Ba with him to the washing place. He asked everybody to pile up their used dishes there, wash the hands and proceed to work. At first, people were confused, but then casting a look at Bapu’s face they kept the dishes and went away. Ba and Bapu started cleaning the utensils. I was in charge of the kitchen. He couldn’t ask me to go, so I started helping them.
When Ba and Bapu were cleaning the dishes, I was torn between joy and shame. It dawned on me that if Ba and Bapu could do it, I must not label any work high or low.
Ba and Bapu were chitchatting merrily while cleaning the vessels. They seemed to be contesting with each other. Bapuji asked me, “Balwantsinghji, are the utensils clean enough? Why are you confused? When a person makes up his mind nothing is impossible for him. See, what happens in our homes; women have to serve all in the family. Ours is a big family here. At least we should not discriminate between men and women. That is why I entrusted the kitchen to you rather than to a woman. In Sabarmati Vinoba used to look after the kitchen. I have experimented a lot in my life. I have come to the conclusion that a common kitchen breeds a feeling of being the members of one family. Also keeping everything clean and meticulous while feeding the people with dedication and love helps us ascend spiritually. If you get through this test I would consider you capable of serving people.” During the conversation I wished that Bapu would better leave the vessels and go away, but on the other hand I also thought that he would better be there as long as he could. If I were a painter I would have painted that scene for the people to see. Many a times I wish that Bapu should incarnate so that we could learn how to live...but its no use crying over the spilt milk.