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Friday, May 4, 2012

A hearty change

Vineet Mani, Hindustan Times

I was half asleep and yet eagerly waiting for my grandfather to begin telling a story. I do not remember that I ever missed an opportunity listening to his stories. His interesting way of narrating real-life experiences has helped me learn a great deal. One day, someone knocked at the door. I could hear murmurs and music outside. After a few moments, Kaka, our caretaker, entered the room and whispered in grandfather's ear. He got up from the bed and moved towards the door. I followed him. I was feeling agitated partly because I wanted to sleep and partly because I did not want to miss my bedtime story.

When I reached the door, I saw an old, fragile and poor man in a tattered saffron robe sitting on the cot. My grandfather and other family members were standing around him and listening to him intently. He was smiling, and giving blessings. Soon, Kaka brought some rice and pulses and put it gently in the untidy bag lying beside the old man. The man walked away slowly, reciting prayers.

I was bemused why this treatment? I walked up to grandfather and urged him to narrate a story. He smiled and put me on his lap and started narrating:

“Around 30 years ago, a dacoit ruled this region and no one could ever challenge his reign of terror. He killed people, burgled endlessly and damaged properties. One day, a small boy somehow reached his hiding place and asked for some work. The boy innocently told him that a gang of dacoits killed his parents, robbed them and that he did not have even a grain to feed myself and his little sister.

“This moved the dacoit and he surrendered. He went to every household and apologised for his sins, and distributed the wealth he had amassed. Now he runs a school for the underprivileged children and serves everyone who is in need. He goes to every house for alms to feed himself. Can you guess who is he?”

I too was moved.

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