Tales : The man who challenged fate

Once upon a time a certain merchant took his usual morning walk along the beach by the sea. As he walked, he noticed a man who was filling a cup with sand. When the cup was full, he emptied it onto a large pile of sand that lay nearby and then began again to fill the cup.

The merchant asked the man what he was doing, and the man replied, “I am Bidhata [destiny] and I am measuring out the food that each man will receive today.”

The merchant felt sceptical. “Can you really do that?” he asked the man.

The man replied, “I can. No man can escape Bidhata.”

“Prove it, then,” said the merchant. “Withhold my midday meal.”

“Very well,” replied Bidhata. “It is done.”

Still doubting, the merchant walked further, bought a fresh fish from a fisherman, took it home and gave it to his wife to cook, and then went to work..

Later in the day the merchant came home for his midday meal, and his wife placed before him the fish she had cooked. “Now see,” the merchant thought to himself, “how foolish that man was to talk about fate. Here is the delicious fish my wife has cooked for me, and there is nothing to prevent me from eating it – this idea of destiny is only a fairy tale!” And thinking how he had proved destiny to be false, he burst out laughing.

But the man’s wife misunderstood his laughter, and thought he was ridiculing the fish she had cooked. Before the man could eat a single bite, she said angry words to him, he replied with anger and soon they were shouting loudly at each other. Finally, the man stormed out of the house, leaving his midday meal untouched. And only much later did the merchant recognize that perhaps Bidhata had triumphed after all.

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