In the end, however, the teacher did discover the truth, and having found the culprit he had to devise a punishment. He sentenced me to five hundred 'sit-ups'2 and told another boy to stand by and count. The boy was a friend of mine and his counting went like this: 'one-two-three-four-seven-ten'. After a while he got tired and sat down. I went on with my 'sit-ups', and soon he started counting again, and told the teacher that the five hundred had been completed. But I too had been counting in my head, and I knew I had only done one hundred and twenty-three. So when the teacher told me to stop and sit down, I said: 'The five hundred isn't finished yet, Sir, only one hundred and twenty-three.' The teacher thought, 'Here's an honest lad,' and said: 'Sit down, you have already done eighteen too many.' So I did sit down, but I didn't understand what he meant. I puzzled over it and in the end got it: five hundred meant five plus a hundred, not five times a hundred-and on that reckoning, as the teacher said, I had done eighteen extra 'sit-ups'. That was how that teacher took pity on me, and I have never forgotten those figures.
Our English teacher once set, as the subject for an essay, 'Description of a Marriage Ceremony'. But I had never attended any marriage ceremony. I couldn't describe it - what was I to do? So I invented a story about a young man who got married, and all the sorrow which befell him and others as a consequence. The teacher noted on my essay:' Although you did not dea1 with the set theme, you used your intelligence,' and he gave me seven marks out of ten.
The Central Library at Baroda was then considered one of the best libraries in India. During my vacations, after I had had my meal, I would spend the afternoon there. Two or three hours would go by very pleasantly, and the librarian would kindly help me to find the books I wanted. During the hot weather I would take off my shirt and sit reading stripped to the waist, until one day one of the attendants objected that my dress was not 'decent'; I ought to have the sense to dress properly, he said. I told him that I dressed by the common sense God had given me, and turned back to my reading, in which I was soon absorbed.
But a complaint reached the Director that a student was sitting in the Reading Room without a shirt and refusing to listen to the staff. The Director was an Englishman; his office was on the third floor and he summoned me there. I found him 'correctly' dressed in shirt and trousers but he had a fan over his head: He kept me standing before him (as the English usually did in those days) but as he was older than me, I did not find that humiliating. But then he pointed to my naked torso. 'Why this?' he asked. 'Don't you know what good manners mean?'
'Certainly I do,' I replied, 'in my own country.' 'And what is that?' he asked. 'In this country,' I said, 'we don't think it's good manners for one man to remain seated and keep another man standing.' He was very pleased that a mere lad like me should have answered so boldly. He at once gave me a chair, and I explained that in India it is no breach of good manners to go naked to the waist in the hot weather. This he accepted, and went on to ask me about my studies, and then told the librarian to give me whatever help I needed in finding the books.