In a certain village there lived a stupid fellow. Everybody ridiculed him and he felt miserable. Since he was in his teens, he went to school, and in the class all the other students made fun of him. Even children who were in lower grades cut jokes at his expense. All the time they made fun of him, and he used to feel miserable. But what could he do? Only the teachers didn’t ridicule him. They were wise and sympathetic and they showed him utmost compassion and affection. There was also another reason why they were so kind to him. He came of a very rich family. His father and sister were well-educated and his mother had a very big heart.
One day he said to his father, “Father, I know you are very wise. Although I am your son, I am not wise. I am so sorry. Please tell me how I can be wise like you.”
His father said, “Always listen to me. If you listen to me, then everybody will think that you are wise. Now, do one thing. Still you have not learned how to make calculations. When you have to add or subtract, you make mistakes. So listen to me. In our family you have your mother, your father, yourself and your sister. If I say that your mother is the first member of the family, your sister is the second member of the family, you are the third member of the family and I am the fourth member, how many members are we?
The son said, “Four!”
The father continued, “Right, we are four! Don’t say five or six or seven. Always listen to whatever I say!”
The son agreed to do this. Then, in a few minutes’ time, he ran out of his house and went to the house of another boy from his class. “Look, look!” he said. “Now I am really wise and you won’t be able to laugh at me anymore.”
The boy said, “I won’t be able to laugh at you anymore?”
The stupid fellow said, “No, no! I can easily tell you how many members you have in your family. I know how to calculate, how to add.”
The boy said, “All right, tell me.”
The stupid fellow said, “Let me examine you! You tell first how many members you have in your family. In case you make a mistake, I will correct you.”
His friend laughed and laughed and said, “Look here, my brother is the first member of the family, I am the second member, my mother is the third and my father is the fourth.”
The stupid fellow said, “No, no, it can’t be. You are wrong. My father told me that he is the fourth member. My father has told me always to listen to him. So I am listening to him. You can say anything about your brother being the first member, you being the second member and your mother being the third. But the fourth member, no! My father is the fourth member. My father has told me that if I always listen to him, then I will become wise. So the fourth member cannot be anybody else but my father.”