Who is the Questioner?

A short story by Madhusudhanan S

A well-renowned philosophical writer who lived in a small town, and was admired and respected by many. He had a huge respect in his small town. But, no one has ever seen him venturing out from his home. The entire town knows him only through his writings.

One day, he went out to a local market where he lived. No person had seen him in the market for a long time. Everybody was looking at him with awe and question –

What made him come to the market today when he never came to market before?”

But hardly anyone dared to question him, as he was looking rugged and shabby. Even though he had a rugged and shabby look, his face was gleaming with happiness and peace. People in the market were awestruck, looking at him. Noticing this, a gentleman who was new to the town came near to him and asked him,

“Excuse me, sir, what is your name? What are you doing? What made you come to the market after these many years as people were gossiping?”

The man replied –

“My name is Thomas Gates. I’m looking at the perishable things. For these many years, I had a friend who used to take care of my needs. Unfortunately, he died last week; so now I need to take care of my need by myself.”

Everybody who was around him was astonished to hear that. They were talking and thinking to themselves, what kind of friend he had? How can there be such a friend?

The Gentleman asked further –

“That’s nice Sir. I see your face gleaming with happiness and peace. How is that–can you tell me?

Thomas Gate replied with a smile,

“Because I am contented and I am fearless.”

The gentleman saluted him and carried on his way with joy beaming on his face; seeing this all the while, a layman who was drunk from the surrounding crowd followed this gentleman.

The gentleman asked what he wants and why he was following him.

The drunkard layman asked him,

“How you dared to ask questions to him while others were hesitant to go near him? What made you leave him alone, after his answer, without further questions?”

old man at the local market

The gentleman said –

“I didn’t hesitate to enquire about him because his looks did not scare me. And from that gentleman’s answer,I found the answer to my questions, which cleared all my doubts.”

Now, the drunkard layman’s head reeled. He slowly came to consciousness and was now fully aware of the scene

“Ok, you have no fear, so you enquired about him. But how is it that his answer cleared all your doubts? That part I am unable to understand. Tell me about that.”

Thus asked the layman. The gentleman just replied,

 “Look at you first,”

 The layman was looking puzzled. The gentleman continued,

“There are so many people around us, but only you dared to come and question me. Why?”

The layman said,

“Because you are looking like a gentleman and felt that it’s safe to question you.”

 The gentleman replied,

“Exactly. Isn’t that simple? In the same way, his answer to my simple question cleared all my doubts.”

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The layman asked –

“So are you saying that the doubts about him got cleared by asking your questions to him or are you saying about all doubts?

The gentleman asked with a smile –

“Why are you asking that?”

The Layman asked and said further

“Because, before you asked him the question, I noticed that your face was not beaming with joy, it was like searching for something, and then suddenly, now, it is. How is that?”

The gentleman replied cheerfully,

“Yes, you’re right. I was disturbed by a question about life. And now all my doubts about life got answered.”

The layman asked –

“How is that? That’s what I am unable to understand”

The gentleman replied with his usual smile (big smile),

“If you want to understand this and know the same, then find out who you are, find out who is the questioner and who is the person answering?”

The gentleman said all the best to the layman and left the market. The layman took this questioning seriously with him, and one day he was awakened from his deep sleep of life forever.

About the Author –

Madhusudhanan S is an Economist by profession and lives in India. He loves to write Fiction and issues on Economics. He has published essays and stories in selfgrowth.com, Storizen Magazine,  and twist & twain. 

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Read more stories in our December 2022 Issue featuring Swami Mukundananda.