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Chapter 10: I Answer Your Questions Just to Kill Them

He was a well-known professor; even the commander knew him. He could not be treated just like any other soldier; he had a certain respect. Finally, when the parade ended and everybody came back to the same line from where they had started, the commander went to the professor and asked, “Is there some problem with your ears? Can’t you hear?”

He said, “I can hear.”

“But then,” the commander said, “why did you remain standing? Why did you not follow the orders?”

He said, “What is the point? When everybody finally has to come back to the same state, after all this movement going forward and backward, left and right, what have they gained?”

The commander said, “It is not a question of gaining, it is a training!”

But he said, “I don’t need any training. This kind of stupid thing. You come to the same place after doing all kinds of stupid things, which I don’t see any point in. Can you explain to me why I should turn left and not right?”

The commander said, “Strange, no soldier asks such questions.”

The professor said, “I am not a soldier, I am a professor. I have been forced to be here, but you cannot force me to do things against my intelligence.”

The commander went to the higher authorities and asked, “What to do with this man? He may spoil other people - because everybody is laughing at me, and everybody is saying, ‘Professor, you did great!’ I cannot tackle that man. He asks.each thing has to be explained: ‘Unless I understand it, unless my intelligence supports it, I am not going to do it.’”

The commander in chief said, “I know the man. He is a great logician. His whole life’s training is in questioning everything. I will take care of him, don’t be worried.”

He called the professor to his office and said, “I am sorry, but we cannot do anything. You have been recruited; the country needs soldiers. But I will give you some work which will not create any difficulty for you and will not create any difficulty for others. You come with me to the army mess.”

He took the professor there, and showed him a big pile of green peas. He told the professor, “Do one thing, sit down here. You have to sort out the big peas on one side, the small peas on the other side. And after one hour I will come to see how things are progressing.”

After one hour he came back. The professor was sitting there and the peas were also sitting there, in the same place. He said, “What is the matter? You have not even started.”

He said, “For the first and for the last time, I want you all to understand that unless you explain to me why I should sort out the peas. My intelligence feels insulted by you. Am I an idiot, to sort the peas? What is the need? Moreover, there are other problems. Sitting here, I thought that perhaps there is some need, but there are questions which have to be decided: there are peas which are big and there are peas which are small, but there are peas of many other sizes. Where are they going to go? You have not given me any criterion.”

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