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It was a joke that one heard frequently in Gandhi's Ashrams. If you want to meet Gandhi everyday, and have a few great moments with him you should fall ill, and be in the sick ward or hospital of the Ashram. It was an old habit of Gandhi to go everyday to the sick-room of the Ashram and spend a few minutes with every patient, chatting, supervising, prescribing or administering treatment and so on. He would himself tie bandages or administer enema, or apply mudpacks and so on. A few moments with Gandhi served as a priceless tonic to the minds of those who were ill. Once a young boy from the South fell ill at the Sabarmati Ashram. He was down with an attack of dysentery, and was in the hospital for a few days. Every evening Gandhi used to visit and enquire about the progress he was making. He had grown accustomed to anticipating Gandhi's arrival, as soon as he heard the sound of Gandhi's wooden sandals outside. Since he was from the south of India, he was accustomed to his tumbler of good hot coffee everyday. As he was lying there thinking of the day he would sip coffee again, Gandhi appeared near his bed.
After making enquiries from the doctor and assistants, Gandhi told him: “You are getting better. Now you can start eating Idlis or Uppma (popular South Indian dishes). Shall I send you some? What do you want?" Suddenly it occurred to the boy to say, "I am pining for the day I can have a cup of hot coffee." Gandhi chuckled and called him an incurable addict of coffee. Then to his surprise, Gandhi said: "Light coffee can be soothing to the stomach. We don't have Idlis and Dosas. But hot toast will go well with the coffee. And Gandhi moved on, and out of the sick room. The young boy lay on his bed thinking of Gandhi's words. Coffee and tea were not permitted in the Ashram's kitchen. Only Gandhi's wife Kasturba was likely to have some coffee in her kitchen. Gandhi's house and Kasturba's kitchen werefar away. Even if Gandhi sent someone across and the coffee got made, it will take a long time arriving. As he lay lost in these thoughts, he heard the tick tea of Gandhi's wooden sandals. And to and behold! There was Gandhi himself
with a tray on which was a covered tumbler of hot coffee and two toasted pieces of bread. He set the tray down before the boy who was dumbfounded, and was saying that he would never have dared to ask for coffee if he had known that Gandhi would have had to make it and bring it Gandhi laughed and asked him to drink his coffee while it was hot. And he left posthaste for work that was waiting for him.
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