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Updated: October 2, 2009 12:05 IST

Walking with Gandhiji

NANDINI NAYAR
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Gandhiji was visiting the village and everyone was excited. Tara wondered how she would get a glimpse of the man? Would her brothers indeed take her when they leave to see him? A story that is filled with excitement and a heart-warming ending.

News of Gandhiji’s plans had reached them, and now, excited at the thought of seeing the great man, people had started arriving with daylight, giving the village a mela-like atmosphere.

Tara rushed through her work, terrified her brothers would leave her behind. Despite this, her brothers managed to give her the slip and get out of the house. Tara rushed after them, pouncing on them with cries of fury when she found them. Her brothers fended her off with ease, laughing at her.

Failed plans

“Why did you leave without me?” Tara demanded.

“We are going to sit on the tallest tree in the village, so we can see Gandhiji first and tell the villagers!” Raja said, “You are too small to do that!”

“Go home!” Bhola said, hurrying after Raja. “But I want to see Gandhiji too!” Tara wailed, watching her brothers walk away.

She walked to the end of the village, thinking sadly of how she was always left out of things because she was the youngest. When she finally stopped walking she found herself at the edge of the village. Behind her lay the huddle of huts and ahead stretched the road out of the village. It was as she looked at the dusty road that she had an idea. Filled with excitement she walked along the road till she found a tree that she could climb. In a matter of minutes she had climbed into the branches and settled down to wait.

When the first clouds of dust appeared on the distance, Tara sat up in excitement. Was it Gandhiji? As the clouds moved closer she saw what looked like a white serpent, winding its way towards the village. In great excitement Tara began climbing down. The minute she was on the ground, she would run to the village, carrying the news of Gandhiji’s arrival. Halfway down the tree Tara realised that she was on a branch too frail for her weight. She didn’t dare move and stuck on the branch, thought sadly of her failed plans.

Swallowing her tears, Tara watched the clouds of dust get closer. At the head she could see a thin man with round glasses, a stick grasped in his hand. It was as this man was passing under her tree that Tara said, “Help me Gandhiji!” The man stopped and looked up. He smiled at her and asked, “Stuck?”

“Yes,” Tara nodded, “I got into the tree so that I would be the first to see you,” she explained as Gandhiji gently helped her down the tree, “But then I got stuck and couldn’t run to tell the villagers that you were coming!” she finished sadly.

“Would it help if you walked into the village with me?” Gandhiji asked. “Oh yes!” Tara breathed, all her sorrows forgotten. And that was how, when the procession marched into the village, Tara was at the head of it, running and skipping to keep up with Gandhiji’s stride, a huge smile on her face.

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