Bhilla’s granny was in her last moments and the boy of 19 was crying by her side when Ranga had gone there in deference to her wishes. They lived in the adjacent tenements in a chawl.There was a deathly pallor and she had difficulty in breathing. When she saw Ranga, he could notice a flicker of brightness in her eyes. As he sat by her side, she took his hand and with much difficulty she said “I entrust Bhilla in your care. There is none for him. He is a wayward boy given to bad habits. Still he is my grandson. Please promise me that you would keep him under your shelter and make a man of him.”
“Grandma, please do not worry. Rest assured that I will take care of him as my younger brother” Ranga replied.
There was a faint trace of smile in her face before her life ebbed out.
Bhilla though younger by 5 years than Ranga, had lot of vices. Under compulsion by Ranga, he distributed along with him the morning dailies and did some odd errands in the day time. He spent the money he earned on drugs and cheap whores.Ranga though he occasionally drank was more responsible as he had a mother and sister to take care of.Ranga’s mother did not allow Bhilla to stay in her house and even advised her son to move away from him.
It was 6pm and the two were sitting on a bench idly smoking cigarette inside the lawns of a government school. The school was empty as everyone had left. The durwan was also not to be seen and evidently he must have gone nearby as the gates were open. It was then a girl of about 17 came inside the school in a hurry. She looked around for the durwan. Bhilla asked her “What are you looking for. The old man has gone out.”
“I left my handbag by mistake in the class. I wished to take it back” she said innocently.
“If you know the class room, I can accompany you. You can bring it out in a minute” said Bhilla
“It is in first floor. I would prefer to wait for durwan. He should be here any minute” she said
“I am not so sure as he was carrying a big bag. It is no problem for me to escort you as the school is empty and getting darker”
The girl hesitated for a few moments and then agreed to follow Bhilla who was already moving towards the staircase. Ranga said “Bhilla, you must be back within a minute as soon as the girl finds the bag”
“Don’t worry” he replied as he hopped two steps at a time over the staircase.
Ranga was not comfortable sending the young girl with Bhilla into the desolate building but thought girl would be apprehensive if both accompanied her. Bhilla was fair and had a boyish face with dimple when he smiled. Ranga was not good looking and had a pock marked face. Ranga let him go and sat on the bench.
Within a few minutes he heard a faint scream from inside the school. He ran inside worried that Bhilla was at his mischief. Worried about the safety of the girl, he hurried looking for the two in the several classrooms filled with tables and chairs. When he neared one, he heard a muffled cry and went inside to find Bhilla overpowering the girl after tearing her clothes. He gave a hard whack on Bhilla’s head and pushed him away from the girl. The girl ran to a corner cowering in fright. Even as he was telling the girl to run away, Bhilla whisked a knife and stabbed Ranga in the hand and body. Ranga held Bhilla under his clasp and shouted to the girl “Run away to the road. Don’t stay”
The girl ran out of the room and Bhilla in a rage attacked Ranga again and ran behind the girl. In a few minutes many people came inside the room where Ranga was writhing in pain. They had caught Bhilla near the gate as he was chasing the girl.. While the police admitted Ranga in a hospital, Bhilla was in their custody at the station.
Bhilla had alleged that Ranga was trying to outrage the modesty of the girl and that since he was strong he had no option but to attack Ranga with knife to save the girl.
The next day as Ranga was drowsy in bed and in pain with bandages in several parts of the body with a policeman sitting by his side. When he heard shuffling of feet by his side ,he opened the yes and saw to his surprise the girl accompanied by her father and an inspector of police by his side. Ranga looked at her bewildered not knowing why she came with inspector. She smiled at him and asked him”Please extend your hand. Today is Raksha Bandhan.Let me tie a Rakhi” She gave him a big sweet packet after tying the rakhi and said “You are truly my brother. But for you my life would have been ruined. You saved me in the nick of the moment. I had explained the sequence of events to the inspector.”
Ranga said in feeble tone “I saw in you my sister of your age. I was alert as I knew Bhilla and his character.”
The inspector patted him on his shoulders and said “I am happy that you acted nobly and very differently from many who indulge in gang rape on hapless victims that fell under their control. You are indeed a role model. The police would recommend your name for a reward.”
The father said “I would not be lagging behind. I will take care of you by providing a good job and also take care of your family. We are immensely indebted to you for saving my daughter even when you faced danger”