42. Harijan First

A meeting was called in a town and Gandhiji was going to address it.

Who wouldn't want to listen to him? The businessmen, the Brahmins, the Patels, the Rajputs, the blacksmiths as well as the carpenters, the Telis and the cobblers, all of them started going towards the meeting place.

The people from the Bhangi hutments said, "Come, let us also attend the meeting. Our Bapuji is coming. Shouldn't we go to listen to him?

They also went there!

The meeting organizers recognised them, "Oh! They are the Bhangis! Oh no! Not here! Go back! What are you doing here? You have nothing to do with the meeting!"

"Our lords! Please let us stay here! Bapuji belongs to us also!"

Then someone had mercy on them and he asked the organisers to let them stay there and arranged a place for them in a corner. "You can sit here but don't come and touch anybody!"

"No my lord, we won't go near anybody!"

The meeting place was over crowded. As soon as Gandhiji came there people called out, " Vande Mataram! (Our respect to the mother!) Mahatma Gandhi ki jay!" All the people hailed out loudly.

Gandhiji went to the dais and looked around; he immediately spotted the Harijans sitting in the corner, away from others.

He enquired about it, "Why are those people sitting there?"

"Mahatmaji they are the Harijans!"

"Ask them to sit along with others!"

The organisers got confused.

Gandhiji said, "If you won't allow them to sit with other people, I will go to them."

And then he went to his beloved Harijans. Some people dared go along with him. The Harijans were overjoyed to have Gandhiji among them. They blessed him heartily. "Long live Gandhiji! May our Bapu live long!"