30. A Short Dhoti
Gandhiji wanted to abolish the tradition of bonded labour from Champaran. So he went to stay there and serve the people.
Once he went to a village and saw that the womenfolk were quite dirty and untidy. Gandhiji asked Kasturba to teach them to bathe everyday and wear clean clothes.
Kasturba went to the women and said, "Ladies! You must wash your clothes. Don't be lazy!"
Those untidy ladies kept staring at her. Later, one of those ladies said, "Ba, come to my hut and see for yourself!"
She took Kasturba into her hut and said, "Ba, look around my hut. Do you see any suitcases or almirahs full of clothes? I have only this saree I am wearing. Tell me Ba, how am I to wash this and what should I wear then? You ask Mahatmaji to give me another saree so that I can wash it everyday."
Gandhiji had seen the poverty in his country but listening to this incident he realised its gravity very deeply.
How can this poverty be abolished? Was it sufficient to give that woman a spare saree? There were innumerable women like her in the country!
So, gaining independence was the only solution! While striving for independence Gandhiji always remembered those poor women.
Gandhiji had begun the movement and it was going on quite well. A major incident happened one day. The government imprisoned his friend Maulana Mohmed Ali.
This grave situation again reminded him of those poor, untidy women. He vowed then and there only, "I won't wear a three piece costume until I liberate my country and my motherland (the womenfolk in the country) get enough clothes to clad their bodies. A short dhoti is enough for modesty."