The Earth Tiller- a short story

Walking down the lane I found a man sweating in sun trying to dig out something from a barren piece of land. People passed by him completely ignorant of his work. But strangely I felt compelled to watch his hardwork.

I asked a man who happened to be a passerby about who the earth digger was. The gentle passerby calmly replied that he is the most learnt man of the village. Shocked to hear, my curiosity arouse even more to enquire about the man.

“Then why is he tiling in the sun?” I asked this in the most curious manner I happen to use lately. Perhaps the passerby anticipated such a question from me because he did not look even an inch moved. Soon I realised that I wasn’t the first one to ask this question.

The passerby started to explain about the earth tiller. He said that the learnt man wasn’t like this from the beginning. He went to far off lands for education and had worked in fine offices.

My curiosity rose uncontrollably. All of a sudden a hundreds of questions were popping in my head. But I let the passerby complete his story. The story seemed to be more amusing then the questions in my head.

The passerby continued. In a tone that sounded as a fairy tale. Though he was reciting the factual reality.

All was fine. The learnt man had everything a man aspires for. Good education, highly named among the elite class, a loving wife, sweet daughter and of course a handsome pile of money.

Then why is he tiling the earth? I became so desperate to know the answer of this question. And after hearing of the good fortune of the learnt man, I became even more desperate for the answer.

The passerby continued in his fairy tale tone. He looked as excited to tell about the man as I was excited to hear about him. Perhaps after a very long time he has found a patient listener. So with perfect voice modulation he continued. 

Though the learnt man had everything but still he wasn’t satisfied. It was not money or fame that he has ever desired. But due to his pious character and indomitable spirit to work he has managed his good fortune. But somewhere inside he longed for something.

Something that he never understood. It was his inner call. His passion started calling from his inside. He left all that he had earned. He left Fine offices, elite society and has settled back in his village to pursue his passion.

What was his passion? I asked quite impatiently. The passerby continued dutifully realising that he has made his patient listener impatient with his slow story telling.

Well for a long time he did not disclose why he came back. But back here he started teaching small children.

So if he is a teacher then why he is tiling the earth? On hearing this question the passerby smiled. Then replied even more gently as if stroking all my emotions of anxiety and curiosity at the same time.

When the learnt man came here for teaching there was a mixture of emotions sweeping through the village. Some said that the man was a fool to leave such a fortune. Others praised him for following his inner call. His wife went upset from him for a long time but later accepted the situation as she couldn’t do much about it. The parents of the learnt man were astonished but left the man on his own as they did not believe what their upbringing has resulted into.

No sooner everything came to a standstill and learnt man taught hundreds of students. Some went out to make good fortune others made their fortune in their motherland. The learnt man had to do a lot of hard work for pursuant of his passion.

Renting a place for teaching. Drafting self prepared content to teach students the most complicated lessons. The learnt man engaged a team of wise men to assist him.

All was going well. Though the man earned less. Though he worked harder. Though there wasn’t much luxury he once possessed but he was satisfied.

Then one fine day a storm swept through the village. Everything got destroyed. The place which the learnt man rented got shattered, his valued notes got dismantled and render no use. Students started moving out of the village for education. Without student what use was his team. the team of the man moved away. The learnt man was left with nothing.

So he started farming to earn a living? I exasperated quite hopelessly. But to my amazement the passerby smiled. We all thought the same when we saw the learnt man tiling. Yet it looks he is farming still he is listening to his inner call. He is following his passion The passion of teaching.

I wondered. Then recognising my bewilderment he explained. The man is gifted with indomitable spirit. When we all thought everything is over he thought of starting all over again. Beginning with the scratch. The learnt man purchased the piece of land that left him ruined with the little fortune he managed to save. He is digging the land to lay a strong foundation. A foundation on which he could build a school or better to say to build his dreams.

Suddenly realising how much time he had spent in story telling the passerby left hastily without parting words. I was neither given a chance of thanking him for telling me a mesmerising story nor I could say goodbye to the gentleman.

Meanwhile I decided to move on for my work. The learnt man was now panting completely bathed in sweat. Yet radiating a scintillating smile. He glanced a gentle look at me and returned to his work unaware of the respect he has earned in my eyes.


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