The Challenge

A Folk Tale

A merchant was taking his morning stroll by the seaside when he saw a man squatting on the beach and filling a cup with sand. As the merchant watched, the man emptied the contents on a large pile of sand beside him and began filling the cup again. The merchant went up to him and asked him what he was doing.

"I am Bidhata (Fate)," said the man. "I am measuring out the food each man is to receive today."

"Can you really do that?" asked the merchant. "I challenge you to withhold my midday meal today!"

"As you wish," replied Bidhata.

The merchant bought a fish and took it home and gave it to his wife.

Then he went on to his place of work.

In the afternoon he came home and sat down to eat.

His wife placed the cooked fish before him.

"Fate said he would withhold my midday meal," thought the man. "But now who can stop me from eating this delicious fish?" And he burst out laughing.

His wife thought he was laughing at the way the fish had been prepared and she began to scold him. The merchant got angry. He got up and stormed out of the house.

It was only when he cooled down that he realised the significance of what had happened: Fate had succeeded in withholding his share of food for that afternoon.