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STUDENTS' PROJECTS >GANDHI - GANGA > Manu Gandhi > Better done than said
68. Better Done Than Said
Bapuji used to be very particular about cleanliness. He preferred cleaning a thing himself and cite an example to others rather than asking someone to do that.
The roads in Noakhali were narrower than a footpath. Some of them were so narrow that Bapu had to walk ahead of me. When I walked behind him he had to lean on his stick for support.
The dirt scattered here and there would make him uneasy. He would have to tread upon that dirt barefoot. There used to be faeces, spitting and filth all over those roads. I was stunned to see him cleaning it all with tree leaves.
Annoyed, I said to him, “Bapu, why are you making me ashamed of myself? Why are you cleaning it yourself, when I am here? Smiling at me Bapu said, “You won’t imagine how much I enjoy doing such things! Doing things rather than talking about them tires me less.
I said, “Yes, but the villagers are watching! What about it?” Bapu said, “Just watch, I won’t need to clean these filthy roads from tomorrow because people will know today that this is not a substandard work.”
I said, “Suppose that tomorrow it would be cleaned but what if it would appear the same again the next day?” He immediately said, “Then I would send you to inspect it and if it is filthy again, I would come and clean it.”
It happened exactly as he had said. When I went to see it, I found the filth all over it. But I didn’t inform Bapu about it. Instead I cleaned it myself with a broom. I told him later, “I cleaned the road. The villagers were with me and they have promised to keep it clean. They said that I don’t need to go there tomorrow.”
Bapuji said, “You have stripped me of the merit of that good deed. I should have cleaned the road. Now two things have been accomplished. One is that, cleanliness will be maintained; and the other is, if the people keep their promise they would learn to abide by truth and the road will always be clean.”