Today, I’d like to tell you a story – if I may. It is fictional and entirely from my own inspirational thoughts and imagination. As far as I am aware, such events never occurred but believe me, when I say that you would do very well indeed to remember this story throughout your life, as one of unparalleled truth and wisdom.
Well, here goes…..!
On a small, beautiful, remote island somewhere in the Caribbean, lived a middle-aged man, his young son and the child’s beloved dog, Prince. They had practically nothing and barely enough to eat – except their few possessions, the clothes on their back and the hut which they called “home’. They had nothing really except the sandy beach, the vast ocean and the endless sky above to give them company. The boy’s father was a widower – a thin and sinewy man who tried to earn his living, as best he could, by fishing. They lived in desperate poverty, in a make-shift shack, so temporary and so fragile was it that it could easily be blown way in a violent storm. However, what the fisherman lacked in material wealth, he possessed in strength of character and wisdom. The boy, barely 7 years old, possessed nothing much of great importance either – the child had no playmates, no toys worth the name and did not go to school.
What the child prized most in the world was his precious wooden box that housed a variety of pebbles that he collected on his many forages on the beach – the child loved these pebbles with all his little heart – he adored their smooth texture, colour and shape. He loved to hear the sound of the pebbles clicking against each other when he shook the box. Besides his father and his beloved Prince, these pebbles were the only things in the world that he truly treasured. He used them endlessly to create imaginary games for himself and in this way the boy kept his mind occupied. Sometimes, the child accompanied his father when he went fishing out to sea or he sat with his father and helped him when he plied his trade in the market-place. They both awoke everyday at day-break and believe me, they had a simple but very hard life. The evenings were spent in the hut with the father teaching his son – that formed part of the child’s education. There was no school for miles around, in any case. Life went on but one day, Prince fell seriously ill. The poor dog lay on the floor, wreathing in agony and after 2 days of unendurable pain, suffering and fear, the dog gave up the struggle. Prince died peacefully, in the wee hours of the morning, in the arms of the weeping child. The child was heart-broken – he wept till his throat became dry and sore and till his tears dried up completely. The boy’s father had not returned home as yet. The child decided to take a solitary walk on the beach in a desperate attempt to soothe the throes of his grief and intense sadness. He knew instinctively that the soothing, soft sound of the lapping waves on the sea-shore would bring him a sense of peace and tranquility, like nothing else.
By the time, the child left home, twilight had already set in – the boy knew that he must not linger too long on the beach because the sun would set in no time at all and the darkness of night would creep stealthily in. He walked aimlessly on the beach – ever-vigilant, however, to pick up the stray pebbles on the sandy beach. He smoothed each pebble lovingly in his palm before placing them, one at a time carefully, in a torn piece of cloth that served as his handkerchief. Suddenly, in the gathering darkness, the eye of the child was attracted to a small, single and rare crystal zircon that had been swept ashore by the incoming tide. This multifaceted zircon gleamed with a strong light, as if coming from within itself – it seemed miraculously to be surrounded by a glowing aura of light, like a bright halo. It sparkled like a million stars and was truly of unparalleled beauty – it was so exquisite. Can you imagine it – just one, single, bright crystal zircon sparkling endlessly among the trillions of grains of dull, brown sand that made up the beach? One would have thought that the boy would hasten to pick it up, admire it and add it as a very special treasure in his precious wooden box of ordinary stones and pebbles. But what was incomprehensible was that the child barely even glanced at it – leave alone pick it up. Carelessly, he just passed it by as if it never existed and went on his way. The crystal zircon seemed, to the child, to be too tiny, too inconspicuous and too insignificant to call for such a great effort.
When the fisherman came home, dog-tired, that night, he lay next to the boy, hugged and kissed him. He sang to him so that the boy would feel a bit happier and cheerful after the sad loss of his beloved dog. He asked his son how he had spent the day – the boy told him everything and lastly, just as a passing thought, he mentioned the lone, exquisitely beautiful crystal zircon and how he had left it lying there on the endless sands of time because he felt it was just a tiny piece of useless glass. On hearing this sacrilege, the fisherman flew into a terrible rage – he started yelling and screaming at his child at the top of his lungs and began to tear at his hair in despair and immense sadness. The veins in his neck stood out like thick, bloody chords – such was the extent of his rage. The frightened child began to cry bitterly and as the minutes ticked by, he began to fear that if his father did not stop ranting and raving, he just about might burst a blood-vessel in his brain. The child huddled in a corner of the hut and after many hours, wept himself to sleep – all alone. As for the boy’s father, he did not talk to his son for a whole week and barely noticed his presence or even looked at him. He left the boy to fall asleep alone that whole week. The child was so sad and forlorn – he desperately craved for his father’s gentle touch; he longed for the feel of his soft lips kissing away the tears on his wet cheeks – he wanted nothing more than his father’s unstinting and unconditional love and warmth. He had never realized till this moment how much he had taken for granted the goodness and comfort of the loving presence of his kind father in their lonely, difficult life on the island.
After a week went by, the child could bear this isolation no longer. He crept into his father’ s arms at night and hugged and kissed him with all the love in his little heart. He repeatedly asked for his father’s forgiveness and finally his father relented – he turned around and hugged the child so tight – the boy cried out in surprise and pain. The boy then requested his father meekly to explain to him why he had done such a grave wrong. The father began to pace the floor – he told the boy – “Have I taught you nothing all these years? Why do you waste your time and energy collecting useless stones, when a diamond stares you in the eye? You ought to value the good things in Life – they never come by easily, frequently or cheaply. Treasure them with all your heart and soul – their value far exceeds all the diamonds and gold in the world.” Then the father sat down and in a calmer frame of mind, he explained, in detail, the finer meaning of this statement to his young son.
What the father explained to the child was this – “The people who cross our path on the Road of Life can either be Stones or Diamonds. It depends on how we choose to treat them that predicts how they, in turn, will treat us. The Stones are a dime a dozen – they can be found in every nook and cranny of this planet. They are the free-loaders, the flunkies, the hypocrites, the sycophants and the flatterers who cluster around people who can offer them the greatest gains and benefits. They will stoop to the lowest level possible to gain popularity and favoritism from any person in power and authority – whether it be a wealthy man, a celebrity or from people at the management level, like one’s senior and bosses, as in a big city.” The father continued – “If you were to live in a metropolis, you would be sickened by this daily sycophancy, wiliness and insincerity of such people. These people (the Stones) will stick around you, like glue, for all that you can possibly offer them in the good times of your life – they are there only for the partying, the good food, the expensive alcohol and the celebrity status that anyone in a position of power and wealth can offer them. These same people however are the ones who will vanish at the first sight of grave illness, bankruptcy, a fall from grace and power or when any major crisis or misfortune strikes their leader. They will never be there for you in your time of need – they will feel no qualms nor have any scruples in abandoning you to the raging winds and the treacherous sea – in short, to float or to drown. They don’t care – one way or the other – if you can or will cope or not. They will always take much more than what they ever give in return – remember my words well. Stay far from the Stones in your Life – they are there only to satisfy their own hidden agenda, ulterior motives and needs.”
“Treasure rather the rare, single and lone Diamond in your Life – he/she is and always will be your one, true and sincere friend – among a thousand other insincere ones. Just as a diamond is treasured for its sparkling and unparalleled shine and beauty, in the same way, this sincere soul is the epitome of goodness, sincerity and loyalty. A Diamond will be there for you at all times – through thick and thin and for better or for worse. Have you heard of the expression – “a friend in need, is a friend indeed?” That is essentially the truest essence of the Diamond. Such friends offer unstinting, selfless and unconditional love and faithfulness always and forever. Such a Diamond is truly a ‘gem of a person’ – he will never ever abandon you when dire trouble and misfortune strikes. He is a mortal – an ordinary human being just like everyone else – but he could just as well be your beloved, faithful dog or horse – such is this friends loyalty and love. Don’t count the number of friends that you have accumulated over the years in your life; take the time instead to count your evergreen blessings that come from God without asking. Value your one, single, genuine friend – in short, your ever-loyal, ever-precious Diamond.”
A couple of years later, the fisherman died in a violent, raging storm at sea and the boy was, once again, left totally bereft, friendless and all alone in the world. However, he had learned his lesson well and never forgot his father’s words – his ‘pearls’ of eternal enlightenment and wisdom. The boy grew up to be a strong and handsome man and one day, he left the island for good and he stays, to this day, in a big, bustling city – it really does not matter where.