Two men were crossing the dried course of a river. It was a stream with pebbles, big and small. They could barely see where they were going as the moonlight was dim and mellow. As they wound their way to the other side, they spotted an old man sitting on a large rock. He said to them, "Fill your pockets with these pebbles; they shall be of use to you."
The men exchanged a questioning look and then said to the old man, "Of what use, can these pebbles be to us?" The man said, "If you pick them up you shall be glad in the morning." So saying, the old man turned around and disappeared into the darkness. The two men stooped down and picked up a handful of pebbles each and put them into their pockets. A deep voice rang through the din of silence, "Since you have picked up only a few pebbles, tomorrow you shall be both happy as well as sad."
The men trudged on to their destination. As dawn broke they put their hands into their pockets. To their utter surprise they found that the pebbles had turned into diamonds. The diamonds were pure and white and sparkled beautifully in the morning light. As the wise man had said, they were both happy as well as sad.
They were happy that they had listened to the old man and picked up the pebbles. They were sad that they had not filled their pockets to capacity. But, there was no going back now. Opportunity strikes but once!
Similar is what happens to youth vis-à-vis education. Whatever they gather in their youth becomes like a diamond an asset; what they fail to pick up, is lost forever.
- By Sanjay Tandon, Sunray series