The story of Mr. Renhe Ren
This is an entry for Finish the Story Contest - Week #44.
This is @marcoriccardi's story:
The story of Mr. Renhe Ren
It is said that Mr. Renhe Ren, of Daochu village, in the province of Quan Shijie, in his forty-second year of life, was seized by a great rage because of his long-standing enemy, who was constantly working to hinder and ruin any of his activities and projects. Faced with the umpteenth abuse, Mr. Renhe Ren felt that his harmony and self-control were going to be lost. He was no longer able to feel the noble sentiments worthy of a superior man.
Then he remembered the words of the wise man. "Sit down along the river bank and wait, sooner or later you will see the corpse of your enemy pass". So, he left the village of Daochu and went down to the river. He found a willow with a wide foliage that bent gently over the water, and sat down in his shadow, determined to wait until the wisdom of the ancestors had brought a solution to his problem.
He awaited for days and nights, meditating. Sun, rain, wind and fog alternated tormenting him, but neither the heat, nor the cold, nor the humidity, nor the insects distracted him from his waiting. Time passed, until one day in late autumn, the stream swollen for the rains brought a corpse to its feet, face down. Mr. Renhe Ren shook himself from his meditation and leaned towards the muddy water, his heart finally calm.
Great was his surprise when he saw...
And this is my ending:
...that he could not identify the corpse. Its skin was a ghastly blue color; the features had been bloated by water, blunted by impacts. Its clothes had lost any markings or clues. Was the body lying at his feet, his mortal enemy, finally slain by the power of wisdom? Was it nothing but a nameless dead, flowing down the river?
Mr. Renhe Ren did not know. But he had to find out whether his abuser still lived and prospered... Or whether his supreme efforts had been vindicated by success.
And so, Mr. Renhe Ren interrupted his meditation, and returned home, to Daochu village.
He found that the province of Quan Shijie had changed much in his absence. A family of strangers now lived where he used to. Very few people recognized him. Nobody seemed to care about his struggle, or even remembered what it was about. He ended up at the house of a distant relative -- the grandson of his cousin -- and the dutiful man offered to shelter him.
After he ate the first bowl of rice after so many years, Mr. Renhe Ren explained his situation, and his dilemma. Had his problem been obviated? Should he meditate longer, waiting for another and more clearly labeled, sign from the heavens?
The grandson asked him if he, Mr. Renhe Ren, knew what a metaphor was. After his denial, the grandson hesitated. With much tact, he suggested that some expressions were not meant to be taken literally, but instead, they hinted at a related truth. Maybe -- just maybe! -- that 'wait by the river' maxim wasn't an actual instruction for the magical killing of an inconvenient person. Rather, its meaning was -- could be! -- that personal conflicts would solve themselves in time, if one had patience and didn't make them worse.
"You are saying," said Mr. Renhe Ren, finally introduced to the wider world of nuance, "that I have been an idiot."
The grandson said nothing, and sipped his tea in silence.
Indeed, as the wise man says, it is never too late to walk the path of enlightenment. Mr. Renhe Ren spent the rest of his illustrious life passing down to others, the lesson he had been imparted. That it is never wrong to ask for advice. That doubt is the greatest of human traits. And that the ancestors, hadn't always come up with the best of ideas.