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98. "The Strange Man from South Africa"

Thus the late Shrimati Sarojini Naidu described her first meeting with the Mahatma:

It was on the eve of the First Great War that we heard the rumour that a strange man was coming to England from South Africa. There was great interest in his coming. His name was Gandhi.

I climbed the steps of a house in very unfashionable quarters in London and I stood on the threshold of an open door and I found a man seated on a black blanket on the floor with funny little boxes around him, eating dreadful looking bits out of a wooden bowl, with a wooden spoon.

He looked up and said: "O, is it you?" I said, "It is I." "Will you share my meal?" he asked. I said, "Certainly not, it looks dreadful to me;" and so laughing we began a friendship that has lasted, grown, developed through all these many years.