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I take no personal credit for this.

The brave heart was my Grandpa!

He was an orphan raised by the village school teacher. He swam across a river every single day to learn the alphabets.

He grew up to be a freedom fighter and braved the jails umpteen times. He wrote, edited and published a guide- textbook for the same college exam he was studying.

He invested enough efforts & business sense to own two grocery shops and a wood cutting factory by the age of 28 years.

Incident given below was narrated by Mom to me.

Setting: Vaduj, a village in Maharashtra.

Time: 8 pm

Characters: Dada, Saral and the monster.

Grandpa (Dada) and my Mom (Saral) are cycling home from a purchase trip, loaded with equipment required for the factory. The pathway runs through winding fields, narrow alleys and long isolated strips of barren ground.

No street lights. No patrolling policemen. Their roadway takes them past a dreaded ‘haunted’ field.

Dada has heard whispers about it. Has laughed it off in bright broad daylight. He can laugh it off even on dreary dark nights… or so he thinks.

As he bicycles closer to the ‘AREA’, he imagines an aura around it. He  stops , his ears alert to every noise. The moonlight lingers over a hunched figure. Unmoving. Menacing.  fear

Little Saral spoons her seven-year old spine into Dada’s comforting chest.

Dada debates whether to take an alternative route – except that it is much longer & labyrinthine. He feels little Saral’s cold fingers clutch onto his rough palm. That decides it.

Dada makes up his mind. He unmounts and advances into the field. At the edge, he clears his throat and demands,”Who is it? Speak. Identify yourself.”

No answer. The silence is louder & deadlier than the buzz of crickets.

He looks back, once, at his shivering daughter. If he was alone … well, maybe. But he had a ‘moldable mind’ sitting perched on his bicycle. His actions would resonate within her more than his words.

He calmly walks towards the hunched figure. His only weapon- the umbrella he carries.

Closer. Even closer. The hunched figure remains still.

Even closer. Within touching distance.

Dada extends his arm and touches the hunched figure.

Rock-solid. Rock-still. Rock-like.

It IS A rock!

A mere monstrous boulder, carved by nature and imagination.

He turns towards Saral – and smiles. She sees him touch the ‘monster’, sees him safe, sees him emerge as the winner of this duel.

He returns, explains the ‘monster’ to her. Saral jumps down, echoes his actions and returns back giggling to the bicycle.

Fearless Dada and fear-ridden Saral bicycle home.

Tomorrow, he will bring back his friends to clear their doubts and fables.

As for little Saral, he has made her fearless and blasé about superstitions for life.

He has even triggered off a chain of events – she will convince her friends; and hopefully they will convince their friends.

What a gift of a lifetime. Yes, Dada was a freedom-fighter in more than one way!                  fear1

Written as part of IndiHappyHours contest for https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia.

Reqd to embed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDHlZMVw-A#t=69