Latiff was the poorest beggar of the village. Every night he slept in the hall of a different house, in front of the town square.
Every day he had a short rest under a different tree, with a widespread hand and a far away look in his thoughts. Every evening he would eat the alms or the crusts that some charitable person brought over to him.
Without embargo, in spite of his aspect and the way his days happened, Latiff was considered by all to be the wisest man of town, perhaps not so much because of his intelligence, but by what he had lived.
One sunny morning the king appeared in the square, surrounded by his guards, walking between the fruits and trinkets looking for nothing.
Laughing at the merchants and at the buyers, the king and his entourage almost stumbled over Latiff, who was dozing in the shade of a holm oak. Someone told the king that he was in front of the poorest of his subdits, but also in front of one of the most respected men because of his knowledge.
The king, entertained, approached the beggar and said to him, "If you answer my question, I will give you this golden coin."
Latiff looked at it, almost contemptuously, and said to him, "You can keep your coin, what will I do with it anyway? What is your question?"
The king felt defied by the response and instead of a banal question, he asked a question that was bothering him for days and that he could not solve; a problem of goods and resources that analysts had not solved for him.
Latiff's response was wise and creative. The king was surprised; he left the coin at the feet of the beggar and continued on his way to the market, pondering the events.
The next day he came back directly to where Latiff was resting; this time under an olive grove. Again the king posed a question and again Latiff answered it rapidly and wisely. The king was surprised again at so much intelligence. In a humble act, he took off his sandals and sat in front of Latiff.
"Latiff, I need you", the king said to him. "I am overwhelmed by the decisions that as king I must make. I do not want to harm my people and neither do I want to be an evil king. I ask you to come to the palace to be my adviser. I promise you that you should not fear at all, that you will be respected and that you will be able to leave whenever you want... Please."
Whether it was out of compassion, for service or for surprise, Latiff, after thinking a few minutes, accepted the proposal of the king.
That same evening Latiff came into the palace, where immediately a luxurious room was assigned to him. The room was close to the king's room and had a tub filled with essences and lukewarm water waiting for him.
During the following weeks the consultations with the king became habitual. Every day, in the morning, and in the evening, the monarch ordered his new adviser to consult him on the problems of the kingdom, on his own life or on his spiritual doubts.
Latiff always answered with clarity and precision and became the favourite speaker of the king. Three months after his arrival, there wasn't any decision made by the monarch without consulting his valued adviser first.
Obviously this unleashed the jealousy of all the other advisers. They saw in the beggar a threat against their own influences.
One day all of the advisers asked for a private hearing with the king. Very circumspect and with gravity they said to him, "Your friend Latif, as you call him, is conspiring to demolish you."
The king said, "I cannot believe it."
"You can confirm it with your own eyes", they said. "Every evening, at about five o'clock, Latiff slinks away from the palace up to the south wing and he enters a dark room. He meets with someone undercover, we do not know with whom. We have asked him where he was going all these evenings. He gave us evasive answers. His attitude alerted us to his conspiracy."
The king felt defrauded and hurt. He had to confirm these versions.
That evening, at five o'clock, he was waiting for Latiff under the stairs. He saw Latiff come to the door and look all around, with the key hanging from his neck. He opened the wooden door and slinked secretly into the room.
"Did you see him?" The other advisers shouted. "You saw him?"
Followed by his personal guard, the monarch struck the door.
"Who is it?" Latiff asked from the inside.
"I am the King" he said, "Open the door to me."
Latiff opened the door. There was nobody inside, except Latiff. No other doors or windows, no secret doors or any furniture where someone could hide.
Inside the room, there was only a worn out wooden plate; in a corner, a walking stick and in the center of the room a shabby tunic hanging by a hook in the roof.
"Are you conspiring against me Latiff?" the King asked.
"How could I, your Majesty?" Latiff answered. "No way. Why would I do that? Only six months ago, when I first came here, the only thing that I had was this tunic, this plate and this walking stick. Now I feel so comfortable in the clothes that I wear, I feel so comfortable with the bed that I sleep in, I am so flattered by the respect that you give me and so fascinated by the power you allow me... to be close you ... that I come here every day to touch this old tunic to make sure that I do Remember...
WHO I AM AND WHERE I CAME FROM.
We must never forget who we are and where we come from; life turns and we can always return to the same place.
Written by Jorge Bucay --- Argentinean Writer
--- Translated by Gustavo Velez --- Columbia