My grandmother, whom I fondly call Amma, was adamant. She locked the door and simply refused to step aside. No amount of coaxing could convince her that Ramdas had to be handed over to the police. Clearly, she was determined to save him.
An orphaned, 10-year old Ramdas had accompanied Amma when she had gotten married. Since then, she had been his surrogate. Ramdas had grown up with her children, running household errands. Amma had given him good food, clothes, toys and education.
Ramdas was equally devoted to her, or so it seemed, until the day he was caught stealing my mother’s gold chain. All hell broke loose and he was beaten mercilessly, until Amma came to his rescue. She dragged him to a room and locked him up. She would not let anyone open the door.
My parents’ protests fell on deaf ears. They finally gave up, planning to act the next morning when Amma was asleep. However, the next day, they couldn’t find Ramdas. “I have set him free,” Amma informed my shocked parents. “He was not born a thief, necessity has turned him into one,” she insisted.
To everyone’s surprise, that very evening, Ramdas reappeared at our doorstep. His eyes were brimming with tears of guilt. “I am sorry, Amma,” he cried. “I got carried away. I wanted to enroll my daughter in an English medium school. I should have worked harder, instead of stealing from you,” he accepted.
A triumphant Amma told my parents, “There is no good or bad person. Circumstances trigger their right or wrong actions. Mercy is a humane way to bring a person back onto the righteous path.”