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34. Limping Dattoba
I entered Yerawada jail and noticed that an ordinary prisoner named Dattoba was assigned the duty of cooking food for Bapu. The poor fellow was suffering from arthritis. He used to limp while walking. He was an introvert but performed his duty perfectly well. He was assigned the jobs like heating water for Bapuji, folding his clothes, warming milk for him and likewise.
Bapuji saw him limping and asked me to enquire about it. The next morning he asked the Jail Superintendent, Major Martin, “If you would permit me, I wish to offer him naturopathic treatment. The doctor in the jail has treated him for six months to no avail.” Major Martin said, “I won’t object, you may treat him.” Bapuji told him, “I will let him keep fast for a few days. Then I will put him on a strict regimen.” Dattoba never had anyone taking so much interest in his well being. He agreed to the treatment. Nevertheless all this surprised him. Bapuji would ask him to come everyday. He would change his diet according to the changes in his condition. He was completely cured in a few days. A limping Dattoba could run now. No wonder Dattoba started serving Bapuji with more reverence. I was the first to be released from the jail, then Bapuji and Dattaji in the last, after completion of his sentence. After a considerable lapse of time Bapuji came to Bombay at Mani Bhavan. I went there to see him. Unexpectedly Dattaji too came to see Bapu. I took him to Bapu. Bapu asked him affectionately, “What is your occupation these days?” He told Bapu that he had set a very small restaurant near Fort. Bapu was quite busy that day. He said, “Dattoba, I am busy today. Do come tomorrow, we will meet then.” He said ‘yes’ and went away but he never came back. Bapuji regretted a lot. He said, “I wished to give him some money for his business. The poor man has to toil hard to earn his livelihood. How could he come twice to see me? I should have offered him money then only.” I thought a lot about it but it was very difficult to find Dattoba in a crowded city like Bombay!