Long time ago, a famous scholar was invited for a supper by a King of a neighbouring maritime country. Feeling ecstatic, the scholar accepted the invitation. He asked a tailor to sew him the best clothes. Then he asked a boatman to sail his boat and get him across the sea to meet the King. On the day he was on board, the weather was perfect and the waves were calm.
In the middle of the journey, the scholar, who had become conceited by his achievements, looked at the boatman surreptitiously. He asked, “Can you read and write?”
“No,” replied the boatman.
“Oh, what a pity! You have lost a quarter of your life,” said the scholar with derision.
A sudden torrent appeared, but it didn’t alter the course of the conversation. The boatman kept rowing.
The scholar ventured another question, “Do you know how to trade? Do you know anything about finance?”
“No,” the boatman replied somewhat imperturbably.
“What a pity! You’ve lost another quarter of your life!” now the scholar was pompous.
The boatman did not reply; he kept rowing.
A long deep silence ensued. The scholar thought that being in the same boat with a brainless illiterate boatman was a curse. But he didn’t know what else to do. So he ventured another question, “Do you know anything about horoscope?”
“No,” replied the boatman the third time, without even turning his head to the scholar.
As the boatman said this, the weather became violent. The initially peaceful voyage had now turned into calamity as the tidal waves were rolling viciously. The boat was churning. Both the scholar and the boatman realized that it was going to sink in the middle of the ocean.
At this life-threatening moment, the boatman turned his head to the scholar and asked, “Sir, do you know how to swim? More importantly, can you swim?”
The scholar was shocked. Dumbfounded, he replied, “No.”
“What a pity! Now you will lose all of your life!”
*=On writing this I am indebted to Mas Pungkas Bahjuri Ali=*