Soon he realized this qaafila didn’t have a starting point or a destination. His joining it was usual, a few were indifferent, some cranked up nose and some tried to be friendly. It was moving in changing circles often overlapping so stations would repeat albeit irregularly. In a few days he became aware of the working of qaafila. The travelers knew where to buy merchandize cheap and where to dispose them at profit. But it wasn’t always a profitable business. Sometimes too many of them would collect same merchandize creating a glut at disposing station resulting in a loss. The only fellow always making money was the leader of qaafila charging a fee from every one of them for joining the circus.
He too began to make some money and then started acquiring assets at a station he liked in the loop with the purpose of eventually settling down. The thought of settling down to a life of easy drift, of leisure without worries excited him. The problem was he didn’t know what would be a comfortable corpus that would sustain a life style he coveted. While he was still debating the right sum to retire with, he bet high, suffered a crippling loss. So he had to mortgage assets he built up to raise working capital to run his business. Back to where he began he reassessed his goals and objectives. That is when existential questions began to bother him.
A dervish in the qaafila was like the leader of the qaafila, did nothing yet led a cozy life. The fellow appeared sedate not prone to exhibition of excitement, spoke in impressive halting deep voice full of aphorisms. The queer thing about him was he never seemed to be short of cash. Close scrutiny revealed, he served an abstract need of travelers, resolved their spiritual predicament. He spoke about life advised fellow travelers on spiritual matters, some abstract blah blah on life impressed travelers, gave them a quick spiritual high. Recharged, they would part with some cash in token of their gratitude. The glib talk of dervish did not make sense to his hard rationalism. He confronted dervish one day,
‘What do I seek from life, dervish?’
‘That’s very easy son, you seek pleasure, you seek meaning but important thing is what we get?'
'What do we get dervish?'
'We get death!’
‘Really! You don’t tell anything that we already don’t know?'
‘Yes, indeed! But I add spirituality to it? A little complicated. Let us see, suppose you get a bright idea and confide it to someone important. Now this important person ratifies your idea, what do you get? You get a high from his approval. I do the same. I don’t tell anything new just dress the thing differently, my stature with folks adds aura to it.’
'So all the spirituality comes from your stature with the people; how folks rate you?'
'I get the picture. Thank you.'