“Pardon me, Master, for my lapse. But what could I do?” said the milkmaid apologetically. “I was present on the bank of the river long before sunrise. But the boatman did not turn up that early even though I had informed him of the need for me to cross the river while it was still dark! He said since the river is in spate it would not be possible for him to ply the boat in darkness.”
“You could not cross the river without the boatman, eh? I wonder how then the mystics say that one could cross even the ocean of life by uttering the name of Vishnu!” commented the Pundit jocularly, sure that the poor woman would hardly understand the importance of his wise observation.
“Well, sir, nobody had told me that!” said Moti in a murmur.
“That is secret!” said the Pundit once again jocularly.
“Who but a pious and great sage like you could ever know such secrets! Thank you sir passing it on to me,” said Moti.
She begged forgiveness from the Pundit and explained that she arrived early to the banks of the river, but the boatman had not come in time, even though she had informed him. The boatman had said that it would not be possible for him to drive the boat in the dark, especially since it was flooding period in the river.
The boatman did not turn up; he refused to ply the boat!
The Pundit decided to joke with the whole incident. He asked Moti why she could not cross the river without the boatman. He added that people like mystics, who attempt to communicate to God themselves, claim that they could even cross the huge ocean called life, by just saying the name of God Vishnu. He was not serious; he was only trying to humour Moti. He knew that the poor lady would not understand what he said.
Moti innocently said in a small voice, that nobody had told her about this. Again the Pundit joked saying it was a secret. Moti believed him and said only great dedicated sages like him would know such secrets. She thanked him for passing on the secret to her!
Meanings of difficult words:
|apologetically||showing regret about a failure to do something|
|spate||a sudden rush, flood in a river|
|mystic||someone who attempts to be united with God through prayer|
|jocularly||in a joking, humorous, playful manner|
|pious||dedicated, devout and religious|
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-8. Crossing the River - Manoj Das (pp. 131-137). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.