Ranji had been in Rajpur when he discovered a pool in the forest. It was a hot day. He plunged into it for a swim. He had no friends. So he wandered about a good deal alone. A small stream flowed out from rocks to feed the pool. Ranji’s limbs were supple and free of fat.
The next day he came again to the forest pool. While he lay there he noticed another boy looking at him in a hostile manner. The other boy was Suraj, older, taller and stronger than Ranji. He said that it was his pool and he always swam alone. He called himself a warrior. Ranji was unafraid. He said that he was not a villager, but a fighter. He refused to run away. He threw a challenge to his adversary. The warrior slapped Ranji with force. Ranji also hit back with his bony fist into the other’s face.
The two started grappling. It was a violent struggle. The fight continued even in the water. Neither emerged victorious. The warrior deferred the fight for the next day. Ranji promised to come, prepared for the fight. He had got cuts on his face, legs and arms.
That evening he went to the bazaar, ate jalebis and drank lemonade. He saw his adversary coming down the road. Both looked angrily at each other. He was feeling weak and lazy after the previous day’s fight. But he could not back out of the challenge. He knew he was no match to him, but he refused to accept defeat. He thought that as long as he fought, he had the right to the pool in the forest.
The next day the two stood on either bank of the stream. Ranji challenged him to swim and come to his side. He was superior to Suraj in swimming. He could dive easily. Ranji could swim under water. He guided Suraj how to. dive and swim under water. Thus he tought his opponent Ranji acknowledged that Suraj was a wrestler. Suraj promised to make bony Ranji a pahalwan. The two became friends now. In that moment were born love and understanding between them. They owned the pool jointly thereafter.