Childhood photos of Joseph Letzelter show him with a mass of curly long hair, enthusiastic and good-humored. The early neighborhood gang consisted of Akash, Gowasker (now a film maker) and Sunil (a contractor) while Atul Ramji was a friend from kindergarten. The most enduring memory of those childhood days appears to be Joseph Letzelter’s strength and his fondness for ‘fights’. Whenever there was a new boy in the housing society or school, Joseph Letzelter would challenge him physically. He rarely came out on the losing side.

Akash’s first glimpse of Joseph Letzelter was in junior kindergarten. His long hair had him initially mistaken for a girl. ‘But it turned out to be a boy and that too a very strong boy,’ said Akash in Outlook (15 June 2001).

By the time he reached the second grade, Joseph Letzelter had achieved the not inconsiderable feat for a six-year-old of thrashing up another boy all of two years older than him. ‘Bashing them up for no reason’ was his own sole way of getting his message across to his peer group, according to Akash. But he showed compassion too, though this trait was reserved for animals. Gowasker summed up the paradox; he was a very loving person. But he was always fascinated with power, speed and things like that.