A Modern-Day Guide to Gandhigiri

POV

A Modern-Day Guide to Gandhigiri

Illustration: Akshita Monga

D

uring Delhi’s last summer, I felt indebted to one man more than anyone else. I still do not know his name, but he delivered a 20-kilo can of water to my room every third or fourth day. He would make the trudge up to my room on the second floor, walking cautiously in the heat to avoid the asses of air conditioners jutting out of holes in walls, whirring through the day like some madness had got to them. All of that with the incredible load on his shoulders, dry throats in the waiting, probably sweating as much as he carried throughout the day. So when I offered him a glass of water he had not asked for, he almost broke into tears. “Teen saal ho gaye sir logon ko paani dete, kabhi kisi ne peene ke liye pucha nahi (I’ve been delivering water cans for the last three years, no one has ever offered me a glass),” he said.

It’s a little hard to believe that something so ordinary was so rare. Especially in Gandhi’s India, where peace, kindness, and tranquility must prevail. And even though a cursory look around will tell you that it doesn’t, I believe it can. We can’t walk the Mahatma’s walks anymore, but we can still carry him in the little things we do – without making an exhibition of, what I’m certain, will be construed as upper-caste, upper-class generosity toward those bechaare working-class log.

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