The stranger stared at the bearded man in amazement.
“Aren’t you the fearsome Durjan Singh?” he whispered in awe, and then started shivering in fright as he realized he was indeed the notorious dacoit.
Sitting in solitude under a tree in the remote village, Durjan looked more like a Swamiji than the merciless killer he was reputed to be.
“Fear not, you will come to no harm,” said Durjan, “And you need not whisper. All of them know,” he said, pointing to the village.
As he spoke, a boy of about nine came up to him, in a wheel chair. Durjan’s expression softened and he reached out to the lad with unbelievable gentleness.
Seeing the puzzled look on the stranger’s face, Durjan sighed, realizing that it was story time again.
“May I, papa?” asked the lad sweetly.
Durjan smiled and said, “Go ahead, Dilshan dear.”
“Two years ago, papa rode to our village to plunder, along with three others. Most of the villagers were terrified and ran off…”
“Thank you, Dilshan,” said Durjan and continued, “All ran off except this courageous kid and his bed ridden mom. Dilshan , who wasn’t lame then, stood boldly and challenged me. He was only seven!”
“As I stood there admiring this lad, my three accomplices lost patience, shot the mother and injured this gallant lad.”
“Thereupon, I fired only three more bullets.
Ever since, I am the guardian of this village- and Dilshan is my son.”