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It was many many years ago. Lekha was just 4 years old. We had moved to the mountains as we could no longer live in the city. Lekha loved the countryside. She roamed in the wide open spaces around our modest house. She was a smart girl, even for her age. She was able to make some decisions by herself. To my peace of mind, Bruno, our beloved shaggy dog, followed her faithfully everywhere. He was wise beyond his 10 years and he could protect her if need be. However, after a week of worrying, I let them both wander our backyard and frontyard not monitored.

One day, as I was making some tea in the kitchen, I heard Lekha’s loud screams of joy. “Mamma! Come here!”

I switched off the gas and ran out. To my surprise she was carrying a tiny midget man. I was paranoid and wished she would drop him. My facial expressions displayed the fright I felt. The man moved closer to Lekha’s chest. His hair was white and his face was wrinkly. Despite his tiny size, he looked old; he was dressed in a regular pant and shirt. I watched his movements carefully as I asked Lekha to set him down. She was reluctant but did as she was told. Bruno barked in excitement. For a dog, who rarely trusted he had let his guard down. I brought out the tea and biscuits from the kitchen and set it down on our front porch table. The man climbed the chair with difficulty. Bruno lay by the edge of the man’s chair. I silently sipped on my tea; the man and Lekha gobbled down several biscuits. I watched his every moment. I didn’t want to alarm my child with sudden movements or harsh words. So I deliberated before asking the man where he came from.

He responded politely, “Just down the hill, there is a village of us midgets. We were ostracised many years ago from the hills. We live away from human sight to avoid trouble. Everyone knows we exist.”

“How did you come to be this way?” I asked.

“Toxic fumes from a factory polluted the water. Initially, we were born to full sized humans. Over time, the genes were too messed up and only midgets were born. Hence, we were forced out of your settlement,” he replied.

I had never heard of such a thing. I wondered if Lekha understood what she heard. She was busy staring at this tiny man jabbering with her mother. I didn’t protest his claims and quietly excused ourselves. He waved at Lekha and ran down the hill. Bruno, Lekha and me headed inside.

He visited us once in a while. He even brought his daughter to play with Lekha who was thrilled. As suspicious as I was about him, he didn’t seem to harm her so I let the relationship continue. Eventually he just stopped turning up. Lekha grew up and stopped noticing his absence. However, I was intrigued and wished I could find the village he spoke of.