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07. Bapu The Miser
Once there was a slight delay in heating the drinking water in the morning. I could not light the fire on account of damp weather. So tearing a piece of the border of my sari I dipped it in kerosene. Bapu observed it from behind. When I was preparing to light it he said to me, "Will you show me the cloth you are going to use for lighting the fire?" I gave it to him. Bapu opened out the folded piece which was long enough to be used as a tape. He said, "Wash this piece and put it in the sun to dry. Is it proper to use for lighting the fire a long piece of cloth which can serve as a tape? You know how miserly I am. Where is the harm if we were to get the hot water a little late? What a lot ol kerosene was wasted in soaking this long piece, and would it not have been burnt had I not seen it?"
I said. "Bapu, now why should we be so miserly?" He replied jokingly, "You are a daughter of a generous father. But I have no father who will give things to me." Then, suddenly becoming serious he said, "There is always some meaning even in my jokes, which, if you can understand, I shall be satisfied." In the end the piece had to be washed and dried and I was made to use it as a tape. I was taught to light the fire with the straw that was lying nearby. Bapu always felt great joy in teaching such small things even in the midst of his multifarious and momentous activities in the service of the nation.