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8. Such a Washerman
The Indian community is South Africa had started agitating under Gandhiji’s leadership. People were sent to jail in large numbers. Many of them had left behind their families unattended. Such people were looked after at Gandhiji’s Tolstoy farm. After being released from jail, Gandhiji had a lot of work to do. Still he would make it a point to visit the women from those families and assure them. Many a times he would help them in their domestic chores. Once he went to the river to wash his clothes. He saw the mothers of children toiling there and went to them. He told those mothers, “Today I will wash all your cloths. The river is far away and you have to look after the children too. Give me their soiled cloths also.” Overcome with affection and hesitation, the women said, “How can we ask Gandhibhai to wash our clothes? We will wash them ourselves.” But Gandhiji was not going to listen to them. He insisted on washing their clothes. The women felt very uneasy.
But Gandhiji’s affection and insistence won. He stowed the clothes into a stack and heaving it on his back went to the river. He washed the clothes carefully and dried them on the river bank. Folding them neatly, he came to the farm and distributed them. Those gentle ladies might have considered themselves blessed wearing the clothes washed by such a great washerman.