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81. An Earring
Gandhiji used to roam around the country for collecting the Harijan Fund. When he was at Dehradun, a lot of women had come from the adjacent villages to see Bapu. On that day Bapu used a new trick. He started moving among the people gathered there, spreading his hands in front of him, for asking donations. The women were impressed by this move and they gave money, coins, ornaments and whatever they could. When his hands got full of those things, Gandhiji would empty them there only and would again spread his empty hands saying, “My hands are empty. Fill them up.” This went on for nearly half an hour and then the meeting was over. He asked Mahavir Tyagi to collect everything lying here and there and went away. Mahavir Tyagi collected all the things, made an inventory, sent everything to Gandhi and then went home relaxed.
All of a sudden, at 9.30 in the night, he got an urgent message from Gandhiji to come and see him. When Tyagi reached there he saw Gandhiji vexed a bit. He said, “If you accept a job, you should do it properly. Do you feel the responsibility or not?” Mahadevbhai was astonished to hear all that. Bapu again asked, “Why didn’t you carefully collect all the things lying at the meeting place?” Hesitating Mahadevbhai said, “I did collect all the things.” Gandhiji said, “No.” Mahavir asked, “Who says that?” Showing him a small earring Gandhiji said, “This earring tells me so. Why is there a single piece? No woman would give a single earring. Where is the other one? Because you couldn’t collect it, shows that you didn’t discharge your responsibility properly.” Mahadevbhai writes in his remembrances, “On that night we went to the meeting place again, taking along the Kitsun lamps with us. We gathered the rugs and the tarpaulin spread there for the people to sit, and shaking them properly folded them. We were lucky to find the small earring along with a number of crumpled currency notes etc. that added up to about Rs 200. We collected everything and sent it to Bapuji. But for so many days after it I was ashamed of going to him.”