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Always with the poor
August 15,1947. It was the day of India’s independence. The British power, that ruled over the seven seas and whose sun never set, departed from India peacefully. The Indians took the reign of power in own hands.
Where was the Father of the Nation on this historic day? What was he doing on the day of celebration, the one who perhaps contributed the most to bring about this day? The independence was achieved, but there was still much work to be done. There was no communal harmony. He was the father of the nation and so he stood by his countrymen in their misery.
Communal riots had broken out in Calcutta. So, he wanted to be there, amongst the people. He went and stood right there, in the middle of the communal fire.
Where did he sleep on the night of independence? Belia Ghat was one of the poorest and very dangerous areas of Calcutta. Being a helper and a ‘Beli’ (saver) of the poor, Bapu decided to stay there in a small house.
Bapu’s bed was made on a wooden plank (pat) and all others slept on the floor, spreading whatever they found handy.
When Bapu noticed this, he said, “All of you are sleeping on the floor and I sleep on this `Chatra Palang’ (royal bed). How is it possible? That is not proper; I will also sleep on the floor.”
It was as though the bed was prickling Bapu and the bed was like a “chhatra palang” to him! He was satisfied only when he slept on the floor with all.
When the Indians were celebrating freedom in Delhi, the capital of India, and throughout the country, Bapu, the father of the nation, sat in a hut like the poorest of the poor people. Through his act and his example, he showed what remained to be done.