“Childhood is a magical period of life”-said Williams Wordsworth. My childhood has been full of fun, innocence and surrounded by garlands of sweet memories which I often cherish.
One amongst those several incidents which I still love thinking about is this-back in those days, I remember, my sister and I used to visit Bishnupur where our grandfather stayed with the loyal and devoted Bakshi Uncle who was a tonga puller. He used to drop us at grandfather’s house from the station and again used to return to the station to earn his daily bread and spent the evening serving for grandfather.
Grandfather’s bungalow was almost fifty years old, but the branches of the banyan and mango trees kept the bunglow stand firm. From my kid perspective, it seemed as if several big hands had grabbed the house. For the meals, we never hesitated to have plain dal chawal with a boiled egg. Moreover, I used to love the simple meal, that was the speciality of visiting my grandfather’s house. Bakshi Uncle had raised several objections for serving us just these.To which grandfather used to say, “They eat those unhealthy stuff for almost the entire year. Let them eat something fresh.”
Grandfather was known as ‘the Sher of the village’ even at the time when he was in his eighties. He was very courageous, fit, powerful and was respected by all. Perhaps, ‘dal-chawal’ was the secret to his health. In the afternoons my grandfather used to go for fishing with the village headman while me and my sister played kit-kit in the yard.
On one such afternoon, an unforgettable incident took place. While my sister and I were playing, a ‘roar’ came from the backyard door. It did not even take a minute for me to recognize what it was. Soon after our arrival, there was news that an old tiger had been spotted.
My sister looked pale. I, holding up an elder sister attitude, took small steps backwards hoping that we could escape. A second roar came.
And suddenly my sister shouted-“Didi!!! Help!”
I ran back to my sister and saw that the tiger’s face was visible enough. I shouted for help. But that was not of any use because the houses in the villages are quite far from each other. I screamed to my sister to run and no sooner did I say that than the tiger came closer. I anyway could not escape so just ran inside the room and locked myself up. I swear it felt like death was inevitable that day but was not going to give up.
The tiger was strong and he easily broke the wooden window and jumped in. I was scared to death. I faintly heard my grandfather’s voice telling me to keep eye contact with the wild beast. But my brain was too scared to process anything at that moment. And no sooner did it give me a blow on my right foot than grandfather jumped over it. How brave he was!
He did not even think twice. He put his hands into the tiger’s mouth and opened it wide. And soon the villagers along with the head man arrived at the spot and shot the tiger with an arrow. After that, I remember nothing.
When I was conscious, I found myself lying in a hospital bed and my parents were already there giving me hugs and kisses. Grandfather was also in the hospital but he was recovering fast.
The following day the newspaper arrived at our doors with the front line heading – ‘VILLAGE’S SHER DEFEATS JUNGLE’S TIGER’. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.Reading about superheroes had always fascinated me but meeting one was my dream.I had found my very own superhero-My grandfather.