Aug 4, 2010


In Kashmir, near Kargil, there was an old man who knew how to climb the tallest mountain and become lighter than air. To keep alive he ate snow and when people asked him why he ate snow, he answered, “It is not forbidden.”
Always a trail of children formed behind him.
Once the boy Adi asked: “Baba, why do you keep climbing the same mountain again and again?”
“Boy,” he answered, “I am calculating the distance to heaven.”
Time passed.  The man correctly and satisfactorily calculated the distance. Yet, he never stopped trudging up the slopes of the mountain. He had grown very old and the boy had turned into a tall man.
“Baba,” Adi asked him one day with a smile, “now, why do you keep climbing? Isn’t it boring?”
“The distance to heaven,” the old man replied with a whiff of sadness, “is not a constant, as I thought earlier. It fluctuates. It changes, and changes with the population of the birds.”
 “This means,” the boy interpreted, “you will never be successful.”
The old man fell on his knees, smiled, and scooped up some freshly fallen snow from the trail. As he began eating the flakes one by one he turned to the boy and said, “All it means is that more work is required.”
More work is required.
[from Seventeen Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir]