Just then, the people heard the sound of hooves, and turning saw a handsome figure ride up to them. He was fully armed, and was wearing a bright orange turban on his head. His face was radiant and his eyes shone with loving compassion. He got off his horse and stood quietly.
Suddenly, Saraswati 's mother ran forward, and took the young rider in a warm embrace. She had recognized her elder son, who had left home some time ago to become a Sikh, and had not been heard of since
Seeing him like this, all of a sudden, their anger against him vanished, and the father and brother also rushed forward to embrace him, The joy of meeting him, however, was soon dimmed by the recent sad events, which were narrated to the young Sikh warrior.
Balwant Singh, as was his name now, was filled ,with rage as the sad story came to an end. Quickly he asked for directions to the Nawab’s camp, then without another word he leapt onto the horse and weeling him around, qallopped off. His parents kept calling out to him not to go there as he would surely lose his life. But by this.time the brave young man had vanished.
Balwant Singh reached the camp and Seeing no one began to circle it. Behind one tent he saw a pile of logs, with smoke pouring out of it. Then faintly, he heard a voice reciting "Japji Saheb". In an instant, Balwant Singh got: off his horse, and reaching the pile saw his sister. Quickly he lifted her to the ground. She was overjoyed to see him. "My dearest brother. I was not afraid to die and
had only one wish, to see you before the end. Guruji has been very kind and fulfilled that too, SHUKAR HAI. Now go quickly. I want to die before the Mughal comes "
The brother refused and wanted her to go with him. But Saraswati. was desperate and said "To die in order to save ones ‘dharm’ is not wrong. I am not afraid. Guru TegBahadurji. Will protect me. If I go with you, the Nawab will destroy the whole village, and you too will not be spared. I can't bear the thought of causing so much suffering, Please, please go."
Hearing some sounds. Balwant Sinqh hurriedly picked up his sister and in spite of her protests, placed her on the horse and rode away like the wind.
When he reached his fathers house, they turned on him with anger, "You fool! What have you done! Wasn’t it enough that you put all of us in such danger by becoming a Sikh! Now you have snatched the girl away from that Mughal! He will come roaring like a hungry lion and destroy all of us. Have mercy on us and go right back and return the girl to him,"
Balwant Singh was horrified at this reaction and taking his sister with him he at once rode off. After an hour or so he reached an open place, which was littered with bodies and the blood had soaked into the ground turning the earth a dark red color. He was shocked at the sight and wondered how to find the whereabouts of the rest of his companions whom he had left only a short while ago.
Slowly Balwant Singh began to check the bodies lying on the ground and came upon one who was still breathing, and did not appear to be mortally wounded.
Balwant Singh recognized him as one Sher Sinqh. Tearing up a turban into strips, he bandaged his wounds with Saraswati's help and trickled some water into his mouth. Sher Sinqh took a deep breath opened his eyes and whispered, "Brother, I am so glad to see you."
Balwant Singh - "Sher Singh, what happened? When I left - all was peaceful. How could all this happen in such a short time?"
Sher Singh: "After you left, brother, we were busy setting up camp, when the Mughals attacked taking us by surprise. We fought as best we could, but they were too many. After I got wounded, I don't know what happened. I hope some of the Singhs managed to reach the deep woods."
Leaving Sher Singh under the shade of a tree, the brother and sister started searching for other survivors. But they could find only one who was unconscious, but not wounded. As soon as he recovered consciousness, he gave them some more details of the attack.
They had to join the rest of their companions at the earliest, so finding another horse tied behind a tree they quickly rode off with Balwant Singh holding Sher Singh in front of him.
Saraswati used to listen to her brother talking about the Sikh religion and had develop a great liking and respect for it. On the quiet, she would recite the prayers of Gurbani, and was now, so strong in her faith, that she could confidently console her father and brother, and then prepare to immolate herself, before her brave brother came and rescued her. Now when she saw so many dead and wounded Sikhs, she was overcome and decided that there could be no better way to live than to serve these brave people who were constantly risking their lives for the sake of their religion. She had seen the transformation in her brother who was not only courageous but compassionate as well. She too wanted to become like him and also to become a warrior.
With this thought in mind she had picked up a sword from the ground and slung it around her neck before leaving the battle ground on a horse.
She was deep in her thoughts when she heard her brother shout. Looking back, they saw a dust cloud in the distance. Soon it became clear that they were being chased by the Nawab and his soldiers.
Balwant Singh and Saraswati urged their horses to go faster and faster, but were soon overtaken.
A short and fierce battle was fought, but how long could the three hold out against three dozen! Sher Singh and his companion were killed, Balwant Singh and Saraswati were wounded and taken back to the camp to face whatever hardships the Nawab planned for them.
Continued to Part III