"Are you hurt?" Aneola asked. "We don't have a wheelchair but maybe we can help you. Maybe we can heal your wounds or help you walk to the next town."
"That's not it." the man replied, still starring in front of him as if living in a world of his own.
"It's not that I am injured or that I cannot walk. It is just that I need a wheelchair, just in case I fall. "
"You see," he continued, "it is dangerous to go through life without taking any precautions. You never know what will come next and I don't want to take any risks."
"But you can still walk if you want to?" the wizard asked, just to be sure.
"Yes of course," said the man, "but why should I? Any day soon I may have an accident and then there I'll be, lying on the ground ... without a wheelchair. Whenever that happens, just imagine the situation I will be in. No thank you! I am not that stupid! No such risks for me. I won't take another step. I want a wheelchair first."
Having said these last words, the man returned into his lethargic blurry gazing stare, with the firm intention not to take another step.
Shaoni had witnessed the whole episode in utter disbelief. Here's a man, he thought, who was refusing to walk, afraid something might happen that would prevent him from walking. And as such, he decided to stop walking all together.
A bit further down the road they crossed a man, pushing a wheelchair over the bumpy road they were on. When they caught up with him, the wizard asked the man what he intended to do with this wheelchair and whether he knew someone who needed it. The man didn't even stop to answer. He seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere.
"No time to answer!" he blurted out. "Already lost too much time. This rotten wheelchair is preventing me from getting where I want to get in time. I need a carriage or something, a carriage to put the wheelchair in, so that I can move on."
"Move on?" the wizard asked, "Where do you need to go in such a hurry, and what do you need the wheelchair for?"
"Surely you know that the wheelchair is for safety!" the man replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "I need it just in case I fall. But the thing is hard to push and it prevents me from getting where I want to go."
"So what you need is a carriage to transport the wheelchair in." the wizard said with a little smile in his eyes.
"That's exactly it!" the man replied, "but all the carriages have already been bought up ... and nobody seems to care about the shortage ... as most of the people just want a wheelchair."
They left the man struggling with his wheelchair on the uneven path as they walked on to find a man with a carriage and of course on that carriage ... a wheelchair. The man was sitting beside the road, completely out of breath. As they passed him by, the wizard casually asked, "I guess you could do with a horse, couldn't you?"
Just around the next corner, believe it or not, they saw yet another man. This one seemed to have it all. A carriage, a horse and of course ... a wheelchair! But still the man wasn't pleased. A wheel of the carriage had recently broken and he could see that the other wheel was just about to do the same.
"That's what you get with these cheaper models!" he complained, "I need to find some extra cash to buy a better model, one that doesn't break down half the time."
"Right!" the wizard replied with a twinkle in his eyes, "Extra cash to buy a better carriage, to carry a wheelchair, a wheelchair that you might need one day."
"Exactly." said the man, unaware of the irony in the wizard's voice.
Shaoni looked at the wizard from the corner of his eyes. What kind of a crazy world had they just walked into now? None of these people were enjoying life and all of the time, they wanted something more.
The wizard however, didn't seem to consider any of these events as extra-ordinary.
"You think these people are weird Shaoni but are they really any different? Different from any of the people you know? Just think about it, my boy. Look at the people you know yourself. Just look at them and see. How many of them are unhappy? Unhappy because they don't have ... the things THEY THINK THEY NEED. The things they think they need in order to be happy!"
They continued walking, until they met an old man sitting beside the road, whistling without a care in the world, just enjoying the day. The wizard stopped and asked him, "Where is your horse and carriage ... and where is your wheelchair?"
"Horse? Carriage? Wheelchair? What the heck would I need all that for? I have got two feet to walk and they work just fine thank you ... and why would I need a horse and carriage? I have all that I need right here, yet I got no load to carry!"
"Aren't you afraid then of all the things that could happen to you just around the corner?" the wizard asked.
"Ah! You must be one of them." the man replied as he got up and started walking, leaving the wizard behind.
Just before arriving at the next corner, he turned around and said, "Beware my friend, for you might spend your whole life fearing for the day to come. Yet that day may never come. And all that time, you may have forgotten to live. Stop fearing the future, dear man, and live for this very day ... as if it were your last one"
The wizard burst out laughing.
"What a wonderful man" he said "and how rare they have become nowadays."
Shaoni looked at the wizard. This man, having no wheelchair, was the only one enjoying life.
"Why then do they do that?" Shaoni asked. "Why do people keep on wishing for things they don't really need? They strive so hard ... so hard that they are blinded by the fact that they already have it all." "Yes, Shaoni." the wizard replied, "Why indeed? You tell me!
Later that evening
Later that evening, when all had gone quiet and a blanket of peace had unfolded over the world, the wizard came up to the boy and said ...
"Next time you think of something you need and you feel frustrated because you cannot get it ... or get it right away, think back of this story and wonder: Is it a wheelchair that I want? Is this something that I really need ... to get me to where I am going ... or rather is it stopping me from getting there at all!"
"But everybody will always say that they need it!" Shaoni said.
"No they won't!" the wizard replied. "Not when they think about the things they really want. The things they really want from life."