His apartment will certainly take you back to the pre-independence days, with walls and living area filled with hand written letters for Gandhi, and black and white pictures of him taken with great leaders. V Kalyanam, a strict Gandhian, shares his most memorable moments

EARLY DAYS

Born during the British rule on August 15th 1922, in Shimla, I was neither aware that my country would get independence on my birthday nor that I would assist the Father of our Nation. I completed my graduation in
commerce and right away started working as a clerk to a British officer, earning Rs 200 every month, of which I would save Rs 150, even after all my lavish expenses.

WORKING FOR THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT

I haven’t seen any British person stay idle even for a minute. They work during work hours and once they return home, they put on their shorts and start cleaning their houses. They ensure they are always active and also
make sure the butlers who work for them stay fit, by making them play football.
They do all work by themselves – for example, if they see a pit, they fill it with sand themselves, waiting for none for
assistance.

BEGINNING HIS WORK AT GANDHIJI’S ASHRAM

From the very beginning, my interest towards domestic work such as cleaning, sweeping and gardening was greater
than towards office work. I disclosed this to my father, who had a friend close to Devdas Gandhi (Gandhiji’s
fourth son). So based on his friend’s suggestion, I met Devdas Gandhi who gave me an introduction letter to the manager of `Sevagram Ashram’.Thus, I started working there. My initial role was to segregate letters
addressed to Gandhiji based on the language it was in.

 

 

MEMORABLE INCIDENT

There are many memories, but one among the dearer ones happened during a train journey. Gandhiji always prefers travelling in third class and he always pays for his tickets. During one such journey, I accompanied him and had not purchased my ticket, not knowing how to go about with it. When he realised that, he called the police at the next junction, complained to him and ensured I bought my tickets. He also warned the officer that he will take action
against him if he permits ticketless travelling even for VIPs!

GANDHI’S CHEQUE

Once, Gandhiji and I were travelling, when a person from the ashram came to him to speak about a problem. Gandhiji gave solutions to it and also asked him to go to the concerned place, to which he politely denied for not having money. He asked me to give him the required amount, which was RS 35. I did so and forgot about it. But Gandhiji remembered the same, returned the money in the form of a cheque on the 20th of January 1948, while I was in Patna. Since I had my bank account in Delhi, I posted the cheque on the 29th to have the money credited.

Unfortunately on the 30th, Gandhiji got assassinated. I rushed back to the bank and requested for the cheque as I wanted to treasure the same with his signature on it; it had become more important for me than the money. This cheque with his signature is my priced possession.

 

 

LESSONS LEARNT FROM GANDHI

I practise Gandhian values till date – living a simple and economical life. He insists everyone to write a dairy on a daily basis to rectify their mistakes immediately and to never
repeat them.