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A Wasted Life

Once upon a time there was a boatman who operated a boat ferrying passengers across a river. From dawn to dusk the boatman was engaged only in this task. In fact, he had spent his entire life thus far on this activity.

One day, a scholarly Bhiswa came aboard the boat to cross the river. Since there were no other passengers on that particular trip, the boatman and the Bhiswa spent their time engaged in a conversation.

Feeling pity on the boatman, the Bhiswa remarked, “What a shame! What a wretched life you lead to be ferrying passengers all day long. You are equal to a dead man,” he said.

“Why sir?” asked the boatman.

“Do you know any scriptures?” asked the Bhiswa.

“No sir,” said the boatman.

“Then, half your life has gone waste. Do you know any epics at least?” asked the Bhiswa.

“No sir,” said the boatman.

“Then, three-fourths of your life has gone waste. How about poetry? Have you read any works by great poets?” asked the Bhiswa.

“No sir, I am just a boatman who operates this raft from dawn to dusk” he said.

“Since you haven’t read anything significant, it is evident that most of your life is a waste” said the Bhiswa.

By now, the raft was midstream and it was beginning to get dark. Heavy clouds hovered in the sky. Winds were blowing heavily. Gigantic waves were rising in the river. Soon, the raging river brought water into the boat.

The boatman stopped rowing and asked the Bhiswa, “Sir, do you know how to swim”?

In a trembling voice, the worried Bhiswa said, “No, unfortunately, I can’t swim”.

“Then, your entire life is a waste” said the boatman and quickly jumped off the boat and swam to safety.

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