Many years ago I made the acquaintance of an editor by the name of Drake Bamboozle. Drake Bamboozle told me of how he often grew tired of endless correspondence from frequently cantankerous writers who were awaiting a response regarding the unsolicited literary efforts they’d sent him. The editor said he always felt under extreme obligation to not dash the hopes and dreams of so many aspiring authors.
Finally, at the end of his rope, Drake Bamboozle left the comfort of his office and said ‘to hell’ with the slushpile of manuscripts on his desk. He decided to go travelling in Iran. It was during these extensive treks that Drake Bamboozle stumbled wearily into an inn one evening. Here, amongst the villagers he met a local belly-dancer called Fatima. Over a few cups of Aab Talebi Fatima related to him The Parable of the Holy-Man and the Mantis.
The parable was thus:
Out walking one hot day in the mountains of Persia a holy-man stopped to quench his thirst at a river. The holy-man sat down beside a glittering waterfall and marvelled at the natural beauty of his surroundings. After a few moments of quiet, peaceful reflection he noticed there was a praying mantis perched on a rock beside him.
“Tell me, little mantis,” said the holy-man. “What is it you are doing?”
“I am praying,” replied the praying mantis.
“And how long have you been sat there praying so?”
The mantis told the holy-man that he had been sat on the rock for exactly one year, three months, a week and two days. He told of how he had endured the hottest of summers and the coldest of winters.
The holy man was impressed with the little fellow’s tenacity and devotion and thus he eagerly enquired, “And what wisdom does God impart to us? Have you received any wonderful message for all mankind?”
“He does not reply,” was the little insect’s sombre answer.
The holy-man was extremely disappointed to hear this but remarked with great encouragement what faith the mantis had in persevering in his prayers for so long.
The mantis then turned to the holy-man and said curiously, “Perhaps it is of great fortune for me that you have come here today, and indeed, perhaps it is you, Sir, that is God’s answer to my prayers for you are surely enlightened on these matters. You see, my wife has left me for another, my brothers have all forsaken me, I am starving – I have no job and no food in my larder. Nobody wants to know me. Truly, there is no one in this world who cares for me. Perhaps only you can tell me, holy-man: why might it be that even God does not want to listen to what I have to ask of him?”
“He listens as surely as I do,” said the holy-man, reaching out and flicking the mantis into the river. “But nobody likes a whining little shit.”
Upon hearing this parable Drake Bamboozle told me how he laughed until he almost split his sides, for suddenly the nature of the world of publishing all became apparent to him.
He returned to his publishing empire feeling invigorated, and now regularly ignores correspondence from writers with impunity; and, he says, no longer does he allow himself to suffer any guilt for it.