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143. An Ideal Prisoner
Acharya Kaka Kalelkar, who was Gandhiji's companion in Yeravda Jail in 1930, thus describes their daily routine :
We get up early morning at four when the stars are shining in all their glory. By 4-20 our morning prayer begins. After prayer comes the Gita recitation. The recitation finished, I would go for my morning walk and Gandhiji would spend half an hour in reading and writing and then join me. The Gita, the Ashram ideal, food problem, the wheel, my laxity, such are the usual topics during the walk. Exactly at 6 we would sit for our breakfast. His breakfast consists of curds (when he took it) and dates soaked in water. By the time we finished breakfast, the goats would come to be milked. Gandhiji always enjoys the sight of the kiddies,' greedily sucking the milk and bleating now and then, by way of comma and semi-colon. A gentle kick from the mother would bring the full stop. Without a moment's delay Gandhiji sits at the spinning wheel, and the wheel begins to recount the tragic tale of India's woes, and the sure hope of deliverance. Have you ever heard the pensive notes of a perfect spinning wheel ? Verse by verse the epic goes on and it grows upon you.
With the wheel humming by your side you never feel solitary. With one or two necessary breaks the things go on till half past ten. At about seven he takes a cup of hot water with lime juice and salt. At half past ten you can see him going for his bath. I forget to tell you that every morning he spends some time with the carding bow with its rhythmic twang. Half an hour's work gives him more slivers than he can consume during the day. Sardar Vallabhbhai once ran short of slivers and he sent for some through the Superintendent. My stock used to be rather poor. Gandhiji doubled his time at the bow with the joy of a mother cooking for her dear children.
At about 11 we used to take the midday meal. Again it used to be curds mixed with .a pinch of soda-bicarb, dates or raisins and boiled vegetables. The newspapers came about the same time. I would read out the latest news about the lathi charges and the ladies of Bombay hoisting the national flags aloft. We rarely used to discuss the news. That was reserved for the evening walk. Dietetics and nature cure, used to be the main topics at dinner time, because Gandhiji has read deeply and experimented diligently in this field. The wheel must follow the meal immediately; after it the newspapers and then the midday siesta. At half past one he takes a cupful of water, with the sour juice of lemon, neutralized with soda- bicarb. Then comes the reading or writing of letters. Hymns from the Ashram prayer book must be translated into English for the benefit of Mirabai. At four you will' see him with the takli — a thing of his own manufacture out of a broken tile and a bamboo stick — walking in the sun and pulling the milk-white yarn.
At the stroke of five would begin our evening meal - curds, dates and some vegetables. Again the goats would come and the kids wagging their tiny tails. Meals over, I would wash the utensils and Gandhiji would prepare the dates for the next day and soak them in water. Then the evening walk. The colours of the evening sky, the glory of the setting sun and the weird shapes of the fat gray clouds are peculiar attraction for Gandhiji. Sometimes he would call me hurriedly to see some peculiar beauty of the skies before my work at the waterpipe was finished. I have rarely seen him inviting anybody in this way to steal a few moments from the appointed task...
At 7 we would begin our evening prayer. During the rains it was timed at 7-30 p.m., but with the setting in of winter the Ashram changed the time to 7 p.m. We also changed our time so that we may have the satisfaction of saying our prayers in company with the Ashram boys and girls, although separated by hundreds of miles. Only those who know the brotherhood of prayer can appreciate the change we made.