The doctor-swimmer

This is a story about a village doctor. This particular doctor was very successful in his profession. He had an excellent reputation and people used to come and seek his help from far and wide.

One evening a young man arrived at the doctor’s place from a distant village and cried, “My father is dying, my father is dying! Please come and cure him! You are so famous. You can cure any disease. You have to help my father!”

The doctor said, “I am glad that people appreciate my treatments, but how can I know in advance whom I can cure? I can only try to the best of my capacity.”

The son said to the doctor, “No, no! I know you can cure my father. Everybody says that your treatments are one hundred per cent successful.”

Finally the doctor said, “All right, let us see. Kindly take me to your father.”

There was no proper transportation to the young man’s village, so he and the doctor covered the four miles on foot. When they arrived, the doctor examined the patient and gave him some medicine. Then he waited to see if the medicine would take effect. Unfortunately, in two hours’ time the patient took a serious turn for the worse and died.

There were some local village doctors present. Their advice and remedies had been passed over because the son had placed all his faith in the famous doctor. Now they began saying, “We were on the verge of curing the patient when this new doctor came! Obviously he gave the wrong medicine to your father, or the dose that he gave was too powerful. That is why your father died. Had you listened to us and followed our advice, your father could have gone on living for many more years. We could definitely have cured him. In fact, by the time you came back, he was already making some improvement. Why did this new doctor have to interfere?”

At this point, the son was also regretting that he had brought in the famous doctor. Now he became absolutely mad and furious. He and the members of his family, along with some of the villagers, grabbed the poor doctor and threw him into the deepest part of the river. It was late at night and there was nobody nearby to rescue the doctor. Fortunately, he did know how to swim. The water was extremely cold, but the doctor swam and swam until he reached the shore. From there he started walking, and finally, early in the morning, he came home.

The doctor arrived at his home to find his son studying medical books. The son had always wanted to become a great doctor like his father. Now the doctor said to him, “My son, do not study anymore. You do not have to study right now.”

The son said, “Why, father? You have always encouraged me to follow your profession, and now all of a sudden you do not want me to study. I cannot understand.”

The father said, “Before you start learning medicine, I want you to become an excellent swimmer. If you can be an excellent swimmer, then definitely you can become a good doctor. You have to know that your life comes first.” Then he told his son how he had saved his own life the previous night. The doctor said, “I could not save the life of the young man’s father, but I saved my own life by swimming. All my medical knowledge became useless when my own life was in danger. At that time it was only my knowledge of swimming that saved me. So, my son, first learn how to swim. Then you can think of giving medicine to others!”