Monday, June 21, 2010

The Kind Hearted Dacoit

Long, long ago, when the British ruled over India, there were many dacoits in the hilly areas surrounding cities and villages. While some of these dacoits were simply robbers, robbing anyone who came their way, some of them were, at heart, kind and helpful, robbing only the rich, and helping the many poor people of the area. This is the story of one such dacoit named ‘Dilbar’.

Dilbar was a dreaded name in the area he operated in, for there was hardly a rich merchant or landowner who hadn’t suffered at his hands. On the other hand, he was a friend of the poor, whom he often helped in some way or the other. The police were no match for him, since he operated with a trusted band of supporters, and it was difficult to learn his whereabouts. Moreover, Dilbar and his gang knew the area very well and it was not an easy task to catch them. The police finally tried to incite the villagers to hand over Dilbar to them by offering a reward of five thousand rupees – a huge amount in those days!

One day, Dilbar was returning from a heist when the police, acting on information, started chasing him. Riding his horse, which was as agile as he was, he managed to get away, but in the process, he was separated from his gang, and found himself near an old temple on a hill. Hoping to find some water at the temple, he made his way up the hill, but there was no source of water there. By now, Dilbar was really tired and thirsty. Just then, he saw an old woman walking slowly up the hill, carrying a small vessel filled with water, and also a few flowers and fruits.

Dilbar asked her, “Mother, I am very thirsty. Can you please give me some water from your vessel?” The old lady replied, “My son, I had brought this water to pour on the Shiva Lingam inside this temple, but I can see that you are really thirsty. You can drink this water. I shall get more for the Lord later.” The small vessel of water did not have enough to quench the thirst of the burly dacoit, but it helped him regain some of his energy, and he was grateful to the old woman.

He asked her, “Mother, why do you come to this old temple which is up the hill? At your age, it is not easy for you to come all this way. So why don’t you visit a temple which is easier to approach?” The old woman replied, “Son, this is our family temple. It is an old temple which was rebuilt by my son. Some years back, my son and his wife were killed in an accident, leaving behind their young daughter. I have been taking care of my grand daughter for the last few years, though I have no source of income. She is now old enough to get married, and I have arranged her marriage on the coming panchami – the fifth day of the fortnight. I have come to the temple today to pray for her well being, and to ask for the lord’s help in conducting the ceremony. I am, after all, just an old woman, and have none but the Lord by my side.”

Dilbar was touched by the tale of the woman, and resolved to help her. He said, “Mother, you gave me water when I most needed it. Please think of me also as your son, and allow me to help you perform the ceremony. Tell your grand daughter not to grieve for her father. Tell her that I shall arrive and do for her, all that would have been done by her father. I shall give her away in marriage like she was my own daughter!” Saying this, Dilbar rode away to his hideout.

The old woman had no idea about who her benefactor was, and she happily told everyone in the village that a kind man had offered to help her. Within the next few days, bullock carts arrived at her house, filled with the requirements of the marriage ceremony – grains, sweets, fruits, flowers, ornaments and bridal finery!

The rich men in the village looked at all the goods that had arrived with suspicion, and soon guessed that it must be the dreaded dacoit, Dilbar who had sent them. They themselves had borne the brunt of Dilbar’s activities in the past, and informed the police about the happenings. They asked the police to arrive at the wedding venue and nab the dacoit.

Panchami arrived, and, as promised, Dilbar arrived at the wedding venue with his henchmen, and gave away the girl in marriage, performing the functions of the bride’s father. He completed his duties and left, only to be ambushed by the police, who were lying in wait for him.

Dilbar and his horse were too fast for the police, but he was no match for their long-range guns, and a policeman managed to shoot the fleeing dacoit through his back! The dreaded dacoit fell on the ground, with an expression of utmost happiness on his face, for he had managed to repay the debt of water!

Even though Dilbar was a dacoit, a robber by profession, he was a kind man at heart, and that is how he is remembered, years after his death. Hate and misdeeds are soon punished and forgotten, but kindness and good deeds remain alive long, far longer than life itself.

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