A Smart Soldier and a Sceptic

Many, many years ago, my neighbour’s father was visited by a trader with an interesting proposition. He had this big brown bag, which hung loosely over his shoulders. After hurriedly despatching the hospitality tokens that was placed on the table in front of him, he went straight to his business. He opened his bag and carefully placed the contents on the table. He told my neighbour’s father that the items came with guarantee. They were charms that protected their users against bullets. No matter the gun, he boasted, the bullets would not penetrate the skin. They simply become like loose cotton pellets caressing the skin!

My neighbour’s father would buy none of it. He was not convinced. Maybe in the world of make-belief but in the real theatres of war, such things did not exist, he told the itinerant trader. Who dug further into the trenches, insisting his charm worked indeed. He even wore the charms and asked him to pull out his pistol and shoot him. He sounded cocksure. Of course he refused.

To resolve the matter, my neighbour’s father suggested they go to the market and buy and goat to try the charm. They bought the goat and went far into the forest. The trader even insisted on carrying the goat with the charm but my neighbour’s father insisted it was only the goat or nothing. So he placed the charm on the goat and asked him to fire. He did and Boom, the bullet scattered the goat in pieces.

“You wanted to make me a murderer, abi?” my neighbour’s father asked him. That was the end of the discussion.

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