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The Fruit of a Child's Labour
After his release from the Aga Khan Palace, Gandhi had gone to Juhu, a suburb of Bombay city, for rest. Gandhiji would not therefore see anyone as a rule. One day, a boy aged 10 or 12 years came to see Gandhi. He was carrying in his hand fruit worth about two or three rupees. He insisted on handing over the fruit to Gandhi. One could explain things to adults, but how can it be done in the case of children?
Sarojini Naidu was standing nearby. She smilingly took the boy to Gandhi. The boy placed the fruit at the feet of Gandhi and stood there. He had nothing to say, but his desire was that Bapu should eat the fruit he had brought. Gandhi's companions were talking among themselves about it. Some one said he was probably a beggar. The boy's self-respect was badly hurt when he heard this. He said at once, "No Mahatmaji, I'm not a beggar. I bought this fruit out of the money earned with my labour."
Gandhi's heart was touched by the boy's words which expressed his sense of self-respect. He used to receive baskets of fruits from wealthy friends. But the boy's present was priceless because, it had behind it a child's devotion and hard work. How could he ignore such a present? Gandhi picked up a fruit and placed it before the boy and said, "Take child, you eat first the fruit of your labour."
The boy replied, "No, Mahatmaji, I would have the satisfaction of having eaten when you eat it." He went away after reverently saluting Gandhi.
The child had certainly earned self-respect by his labour. But do you think he missed out on anything in life?