Why the ability to read minds a.k.a. emotional intelligence is so important!

(This short narrative is a work of fiction and is a redrafted version of an old story)

Just as he placed the parcel at the church’s doorstep, the unrepentant man knocked the door. He did not waste any more time and faded away into the depressing night as if nothing had happened, as if he had not sinned!

Howling winds and rattling window glasses reduced the knock to a faint tap. Or perhaps the priest was too absorbed in his study to take note. Winter was a month away, but dusk had brought along gusts of chilly dry winds on the moor and ended an otherwise balmy day in a cold, dreary night.

The old, ‘lighthouse’ church stood atop a small hill that rose gently from the main village street. Well past its ancient glory, the church’s ragged walls wore a dark, soiled look. But the solid structure and graceful architecture were alluring and bore testimony to its bygone splendor.

The Lighthouse Church
The ‘lighthouse’ church shined like a beacon

Church architects had built a glass walled fire pit over the bell tower. Every evening, church servants lit a fire and, even on this bleak night, the church shimmered like a beacon from afar. Just like a lighthouse!

Diligent and forthright with exhaustive knowledge of the world, religions, and philosophy, the priest hated interruptions when studying scriptures before he retired for the night.

Nine hours a day was about the only time he could dedicate for study these days. He never slept for more than six and began his day at the crack of dawn. Unmarried by choice, he focused on God with a single minded devotion.

He was about to dismiss the hazy knock as a figment of his imagination when he heard a muffled, barely audible cry. That was it. There was no more uncertainty. The priest strode purposefully to the main door and opened it on to the spacious front porch.

Placed on the porch was a bundle wrapped in a warm blanket. The priest rushed to the package just as the moon brushed aside the veil of obscuring clouds and unleashed milky white light, right on the parcel. It was a baby!

Without a moment’s hesitation, the priest picked up the bundle. His first thoughts ran to the infant’s health and safety. Deeply religious with an unshakeable belief in virtuous behavior, he would never make a burden out of the bundle.

‘Richard,’ the priest called in a gentle but commanding voice as he picked up the baby.

‘Yes Father,’ replied the attendant hurrying to the front door.

‘Some warm milk, err . .  quick.’

Richard did what he was told. As always. The baby boy stopped crying and lapped up the milk greedily. After that, the boy did not hesitate getting used to the new setting. And when he slept, he did as if he belonged there.

‘As shameless as his real father,’ thought Richard but did not dare utter a word before the priest.

‘Isn’t he lovely Richard?” The expression was more of an order than a question. “He’s a gift from God. We will call him Gabriel,’ the priest continued.

And that was that. Gabriel grew up quick into a mean, naughty brat. Richard was often the target of his pranks that bordered on the terrifying. He once killed a snake and hung it over a sleeping Richard. The spoof nearly gave Richard a heart attack and it was weeks before Richard recovered from the shock.

Gabriel roamed around with his ‘gang’, not returning to the church for days at end. He got into bloody fights with village lads. And he developed an eye for girls as the girls did for him. “Just like his real father,” Richard went telling around the village, careful his gossip would not reach the priest.

So much so, the brat never learned to read and write. More than anything else, this irked the learned priest. But Gabriel did have a talent for quickly reading people. Within minutes, he knew if the person he was dealing with was a softie or a toughie, a man of action or a man of thought, a serious candidate or a bluff. And, playing hardball during tough bargaining matches came naturally to him. These hardnosed, worldly skills were, however, lost on his bookish father.

The priest played it smart. Or he thought so. He made Gabriel ring the church bell each day for a small stipend. After a while when Gabriel got used to the pocket money, his father ordered all church workers to be at least barely literate if they wanted to keep their jobs.

All in vain. Why would Gabriel need a stipend when he made much more in card games at the run-down village bar? Helped, of course, by one of his gang who could lie hidden on the battered roof and another member who relayed the message with his eyes only! The boy readily abandoned his errand of ringing the bell. That broke his father’s heart.

Finally, on Gabriel’s fifteenth birthday, the priest mustered every ounce of his rather shaky resolve.

‘If you don’t learn to read-write and do not straighten up, leave my church right now.’ The priest somehow managed to put down his jittery foot.

There followed a bitter war of words. The father steeled his mind and, finally with a heavy heart, threw out his adopted son.

The priest could not touch food for two days.

Neither could Gabriel. But only because he could not buy or steal any! He had squandered his gambling winnings in the village bar right before his father kicked him out. The rascal was of the kind born without a sense of guilt.

Wandering cold and hungry on the desolate, unforgiving moor for two days, he finally came across a farm of a well-off cigar trader. Instinctively, Gabriel sensed the cigar trader’s soft corner for the unfortunate. Gabriel begged for food. He was a good actor. The owner took pity and fed him leftovers.

This brought our lad back to his true self. He prayed the owner to let him sleep in the barn for the night. He actually took a short nap to recover strength. And then, just after midnight, without so much as a whisper, Gabriel stole a large box of cigars, a horse, and some clothes before vanishing into the night.

Two hungry days had taught him something about life although Gabriel would never admit it. His first stop was the house of Edward, his most trusted old gang friend. Edward was also the toughest – twice he had beaten Gabriel in a friendly fight, the only one to do so. Together, they rode hard for a day to a distant town where cigars were a prized commodity.

Gabriel and his gang had often visited the village for its peculiar, sweet wine and knew who could shell out the most for cigars. After making a windfall and regaling for a day, Gabriel and Edward purchased guns before returning to the cigar trader’s farm.

This time he did not steal. He proposed partnership! Even after spending nearly a quarter of his recent fortune, Gabriel had enough left to impress the trader. In fact, the trader was awed – he had never yet seen such huge profits.

Within two years, Gabriel amassed enough wealth to start his own cigar factory. And within five years, he was a filthy rich tycoon. He knew all the places and people who could cough up the most for cigars and abused the information to the fullest. The old cigar trader was now his junior partner!

Never the one to follow the law, Gabriel rarely paid taxes. Or paid the least possible sum. His methods for business were simple – beg, borrow, steal, and bribe. And if these failed, shoot! Edward came in handy here.

To cover his dark deeds, he began donating to charity. With much aplomb and always making the grant look more than it was. He even paid fat allowances to his old father’s church. But the priest would not approve of his ‘sinful’ ways.

Gabriel was now looking to invest his immense wealth. Loading three stagecoaches with gold, silver, and coin money, he took his lawyer along to meet an investment banker in the next county. Edward and his mounted musketeer guards rode along for the convoy’s security.

Gabriels Money
Gabriel’s money convoy rode hard to the next county.                                             Image Courtesy of Georges Jansoone (JoJan) at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anoniem_002.JPG

The investment banker had heard of the notorious Gabriel Gang. If ever he wanted a client, this was it! Not just for the money, but also for the influence that would come with the deal. He rolled out the finest red carpet, wore his best jacket, and ordered the most delicious lunch from town.

Gabriel ‘the tycoon’ arrived late and got down to business without as much as nodding to the banker. Even the seasoned banker was fascinated by Gabriel’s shrewd investment sense and grasp over tiny details.

After lunch, the lawyer and the banker drafted a detailed contract. Smiling eagerly and respectfully, the banker presented his gold nipped pen to Gabriel to sign the contract, bowing slightly as he did so.

‘Forget the pen. Get me a stamp pad,’ Gabriel ordered gruffly. ‘You’ll need my thumb mark,’ he added without a shred of embarrassment.

For the first time since Gabriel had ignored him after arriving late that morning, the banker felt sure of the ground beneath his feet. After all, he had that, at least one quality his prosperous and influential client did not – education.

There was now the faintest of twinkles in the banker’s eyes. Sometimes, the eyes of even the most hardened professionals fail to conceal their inner feelings.

‘Forgive me Sir’, the banker interjected as he composed himself, recovering from the momentary jubilation. ‘But you could have made much more with education’, he added withdrawing his pen.

Gabriel had already noted the tiny twinkle. He was after all, a master at judging people.

‘Wrong,’ growled the tycoon, ‘with education, I’d still be ringing the darn church bell!’

Moral of the Story: Never underestimate uneducated or less educated people. They might have read less books or none at all, but they are usually better at reading people and excellent judges of character. Emotional Intelligence, as they say.

Please note, education is more important than ever before in this age of technology and emotional intelligence is not a trait absent in the highly educated.

Indrajeetsinh Yadav @ Falcon Words is the composer of this short narrative, which is a work of fiction based on an old story. For captivating and informative content on 10+ subjects, write to us at info@falconwords.com or call us at +91-9822052945.

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