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The morning sun was already shining brightly into his rock shelter when the Guru rolled up his worn sleeping mat and walked outside with the painful ache of uncomfortable sleep in his bones. He squatted in front of his small cave, took a piece of dried cud from his pocket and started chewing listlessly on it, staring blankly at the magnificent expanse of mountain peaks that stretched around him. He finished the last bit of cud and then sipped a few mouthfuls of water from a clay beaker next to him. He then wearily assumed a meditative position and waited - his straggly, white beard almost reaching his lap.

A well-beaten track wound its way from his cave all the way down the slope of the mountain, and he soon noticed a speck coming up the path, one that he knew would become a visitor. This laborious journey will be undertaken by several lost souls each day, simply to come to him – the dealer of high knowledge. They depended on his wisdom as he had to depend on their charity to survive, as he had done for many, many years. He wasn’t young when he decided to settle in his little cave, and now he felt unfathomably old.

The speck eventually became a middle-aged man with shoddy clothes and an ill look of desperation on his face. He approached reverently, totally in awe of the wizened old man that squatted before him. His bottom lip quivered slightly as he hesitantly kneeled in front of the Guru. The Guru raised his hand in a calming fashion, and spoke.
‘You have come from afar and you have treaded a difficult path. What weighs upon your mind this day?’ he asked.
‘Oh great one, I have not come easy to you, and you have seen that in your wisdom. I have found no other way but to trouble you today, and for that I am very regretful,’ the man said apologetically.
‘I – I do not know where to start…’
‘Start at the beginning,’ said the Guru wisely.

The man’s voice started trembling as he spoke.
‘It is my wife. She used to be affectionate towards me but now she spurns me. She says she loves me but I do not see it in her. She is very dear to me and I am afraid of losing her. I do not know what I am doing wrong, oh great Guru, and I do not know what is the matter with her.’
‘Have you done her any harm?’ asked the Guru.
‘No, no not ever. I treasure and treat her as a goddess,’ replied the man fervently.
The Guru stared at his blackened toenails for what seemed to be an eternity. He wondered at his own gnarled feet in a contemplative way. The fact that he has run out of answers a long, long time ago was not the kind of information he cared to share with his visitors. He still enjoyed the hero worship, and of course, the grateful gifts that came with it. It did not mean that he was powerless, though. Without a word he got up out of his meditative stance, and proceeded towards the cave. The man stood up uncomfortably, and then sat down quickly when the Guru gave him a stern look of disapproval.

The dimly lit interior was ideal for what the Guru needed to do. He scratched around behind a rock and picked up a small instrument that lit up and chimed softly as he touched it. He deftly and expertly connected to an omnipotent entity that had all the answers. The truth of his visitor’s situation surprised even the Guru, when he found the answer a while later. He put the instrument back behind the rock and rejoined his anxious visitor outside.

‘Your problem has an answer, I am glad to say,’ the Guru murmured. The man’s face lit up immediately.
“You do not have to worry, my friend. A woman’s heart is like a hotel. It has many rooms and you are but one person in one of those rooms. As it is with these things – when things get busy, you are sure to be neglected. When things quieten down, you will have the attention that you crave,’ the Guru said sagely.
‘But what must I do, your greatness?’ the man enquired.
‘You have spoilt your woman with gifts and pets, and therefore you have filled all the rooms with things that distract from her greatest asset, and that is you. Proceed to remove these distractions from her life and she will be yours again,’ the Guru said in a firm voice and stretched out his palm.

The man stared at the open palm for a short while before he realized what has to be done.
‘O-of course. How inconsiderate of me. Thank you, oh mighty Guru,’ he stammered and put a few coins in the outstretched palm. The Guru nodded appreciatively and then ignored his guest, taking up his normal meditative position. The man left the mountain, every now-and-then looking deferentially over his shoulder at the centre of wisdom squatting in the sun.

The Guru was pleased. He had some money for airtime and in his meditation, he thanked the inventors of the internet and the kind people who put it on a cell-phone, and he reserved a special prayer for the wise boys of

© Etienne A.  Marais –  4 December 2006