A long time ago there once lived a person named Raju in a tiny village located near a river. He was disabled and couldn’t walk normally therefore he was forced to lead a lonely life. He used to stay with his mother in a small hut by the riverside which was a little away from the village. Over a period of time, the villagers had more or less abandoned Raju. They thought he was a spent force as he never had much to talk about except for the same old routine stuff concerning his hut’s rustic vicinities, which didn’t interest the village folks, anymore.
Once a learned person landed up on the banks of the river near Raju’s hut. The person had arrived on a boat. As he reached the riverbank he stopped for a moment and looked at Raju. Raju said, ‘Namaskar sahib.’
The learned person asked, ‘What is your name and what do you do?’ Raju replied, ‘Sahib, my name is Raju. But I’m unable to do much in life because I can’t walk properly as I’m disabled and therefore I lead a lonely life here in the vicinities of this village.’
‘But why so?’ Asked the learned person.
‘Because I have no friends here and my fellow villagers don’t give me enough respect. They don’t talk to me either because they find me to be a stale piece because I stay put here only.’ Raju then narrated his agony to the learned person. He had no friends and no one talked to him. He was discarded by the villagers because he had nothing new to talk about since he had not visited new places in his life so his reservoir of knowledge was very limited and that’s why he was considered an antique piece in the village and thus shunned.
The learned man looked at Raju and said, ‘that if you don’t get the opportunity to talk to human beings talk to birds.’
‘But how will that help sahib?’ Asked Raju. The learned person looked at him again and said, ‘well that the birds will only tell you.’ After which the learned person left for his destination.
The next day Raju waited for the birds near his hut thinking he’ll talk to them but none came. The next few days too, the same thing happened. One day Raju saw a bird gyrating up and down near his hut in search of some food which gave him an idea. He sprinkled some paddy seeds there and waited for a while. After some time he saw a couple of birds landing there to eat them. Soon a small flock was seen there enjoying the seeds as their food. Later Raju also kept a pitcher full of water there and the place soon turned into a ‘bird’s canteen.’ He and his mother started enjoying the scene. Soon every morning and evening a number of birds started coming there and gradually they became familiar with Raju and his mother. Soon Raju realised what a priceless tip the learned man had given him. Now he could do without the villagers’ company.
After some days a rich merchant landed up at the same spot where the learned person had earlier arrived. He asked Raju if he had seen a learned person passing that way. Raju confirmed that yes a learned person did pass that way some time ago and because of his advice only he was having a good time amid the chattering birds. By this time Raju had also learnt their language and had started communicating with the birds; some of them had even become his friends and had even started perching on his shoulders.
The merchant asked, ‘in which direction did the learned man, go? Raju said, ‘Well, he went towards the east.’
‘What is your name young man?’ Asked the Merchant.
‘Sahib my name is Raju.’ He replied.
‘What do you do Raju?’ Asked the Merchant.
‘Sahib, I feed birds and I also communicate with them.’
‘What else can you do Raju?’ Asked the merchant.
‘Since I can’t walk properly I can’t go anywhere so I can’t do much.’ Replied Raju.
‘Then spend some time next to the river every day. The flowing river that has seen the world will teach you so many things.’ Said the Merchant after which he left.
The next morning Raju went and sat on the riverbank. After a while, he saw a boat passing from there. It was heading towards the south. Raju loudly asked the boatman, ‘where are you going?’ The boatman replied, ‘towards the sea where all the rivers meet the sea.’
The next day Raju saw another boat heading in the opposite direction. He asked the boatman, ‘where are you going?’ The boatman replied, ‘towards the north where all the mountains reside.’ Raju thought, so what if he can’t walk, he can at least see places by sailing in a boat as his hands were perfectly fine. Soon, he sold a piece of his land out of his small holding and bought a small boat and became a boatman. He started sailing towards the north and south the two directions of the river. He even started taking the villagers across the river and with that he once again became relevant in their lives and started drawing respect from them.
After some time, one day, Raju saw the learned person and the merchant arriving at the riverbank together. They wanted to cross the river. They recognised Raju and asked what he was doing in that boat. Raju explained that he had now become a boatman. He thanked the learned man for his good advice because of which he learned to talk to the birds that made innumerable friends. He even thanked the Merchant for motivating him to sit near the river that gave him the idea of becoming a boatman as his hands were fit enough to row the boat, even when, he could not walk normally and because of this he could see innumerable places and once again become relevant in the lives of the villagers.
The merchant said never leave the company of a learned man. I lost the learned man once yet I followed him and met you instead, Raju. You told me he has gone towards the east and I followed him there where I found him. So never leave the company of a Wiseman.
‘Yes, said Raju, bright ideas come only from intelligent people. The learned sahib only showed me the way. He asked me to befriend the chattering birds instead of human beings that taught me how to respectfully live without the villagers, and you, respected merchant, showed me how to go places, even without, proper legs. There isn’t a greater asset than an intelligent company. Great ideas come from intelligent people only. Now can I take you both across the river?’ Asked Raju. ‘Yes of course.’ Replied the two.
Written by Kamlesh Tripathi
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