The Greatest Salesman in the World!
“People do not care how much you know
until they know how much you care.” – Teddy Roosevelt
And so Hafid,
now waiting for the chosen one
to receive the scrolls of wisdom in his quiet castle.
The old man,
with only one trusted manager as his friend,
had seen seasons pass by
and old age had soon forced him
to sit still in his garden.
He waited almost 3 years since his fortune was scattered
and his merchant kingdom disintegrated.
And then from the other side of the desert,
from the East,
came a thin face of a stranger.
This man entered the city of Damascus
and made his way directly to Hafid’s castle.
Erasmus, still with his customary politeness,
stood at the gate of the castle
while the other man repeated:
“I want to speak to your master.”
The appearance of a stranger is difficult to establish trust.
His shoes were tattered, tied with twine,
his unlucky 96 feet were covered
with scratches and he wore an old,
dirty tunic of coarse camel hair.
The man’s hair was disheveled and his eyes were bloodshot
from the sun and wind.
Erasmus held the door tightly:
“What do you need to see my master about?”
The stranger dropped his old tattered bag on the ground,
clasped his hands and begged Erasmus:
“Please, good man,
let me see your master.
I won’t do any harm.
I just want to say a few words
and if your boss doesn’t want to hear me,
I’ll leave immediately.”
but accustomed to his master’s lenient behavior,
he finally slowly opened the gate
and nodded his head to the stranger to enter.
The old manager quietly turned his back to lead the way,
he went straight into the garden
with the stranger following.
In the garden, Hafid was sitting wearily in an armchair,
eyes closed as if he were sleeping.
Erasmus hesitated for a moment,
then coughed softly,
Hafid blinking slightly.
Erasmus coughed again
and this time Hafid opened his eyes.
“Excuse me, sir.
Someone wants to see you.”
Hafid woke up, sat up straight
and looked at the stranger.
The man immediately said,
“Sir, are you the man who is called the Greatest Salesman in the World?”
Hafid frowned slightly but nodded:
“I was called that many years ago,
now I am old and no longer worthy to be called that.
What do you want from me?”
The customer stood,
and disheveled but with an air of complete confidence,
in front of Hafid,
who was once celebrated as the world’s greatest salesman in ’97.
Rubbing his hand over his thin chest,
he blinked in the soft light of the garden,
replying: “My name is Saul.
I returned from Jerusalem
to my birthplace in Tarsus. Anyway,
I also ask you not to be mistaken
because of my appearance right now.
I am not a robber or a beggar.
I am a citizen of Tarsus and also a citizen of Rome.
I am a descendant of the Pharisees of Benjamin’s Jewish community.
I studied with the great Gamaliel,
and I was once a canvas tailor.
Some people call me Paul.”
He wiggled as he spoke and Hafid,
now fully awake,
politely invited the stranger to sit down.
Paul nodded his thanks, but remained still:
“I come to you for guidance and help,
only you can help me.
Will you allow me to tell my story?”
Erasmus stood behind the stranger,
shaking his head repeatedly at his master,
but Hafid ignored it.
He studied the man who disturbed his sleep for a moment,
“I am too old to keep looking up at you.
Sit at my feet and tell me your story.”
Paul pushed his tattered luggage bag aside
and knelt down beside the old man,
who was waiting in silence.
“Four years ago,
years of learning
and gaining knowledge closed the eyes
of my heart to the truth.
I witnessed a stoning in Jerusalem.
The one convicted of stoning was Stephen,
a holy man.
He was condemned to death
by the Sanhedrin Jewish community for blaspheming our Lord.”
Hafid interrupted the stranger with a puzzled look:
“I don’t understand,
what do I have to do with all this?”
Paul raised his hand to reassure the old man.
“I will explain.
Stephen was a follower of a man named Jesus,
who was crucified to death
by the Romans almost a year before this stoning
of Stephen for the same sin.
Stephen was found guilty because he believed
and preached that the man named Jesus was the Messiah,
the son of God,
the one foretold by the Jewish prophets to come.
And the Jewish community joined hands with the Romans
to kill this son of God.
This alleged defamation left those in power in the Jewish community
with no choice but to put Stephen
to death and as I told you,
I had a hand in it!
Because of the impulsiveness of my youth
and my ignorance,
I have received a mission from the elders
of the synagogue to come here,
Damascus, to bring back all those who believe
in Jesus’ name.
As I told you, this happened four years ago.”
Erasmus glanced at Hafid,
surprised to see his master’s gaze,
a look the old manager hadn’t seen in years.
Only the sound of water dripping
from the pool could be heard in the quiet garden
until Paul spoke again.
“I was on my way to Damascus at the time
with killing intent in my heart and hatred in my blood.
While walking on the road,
suddenly a bright light fell from the sky in front of my eyes.
I remember not panicking,
just stunned by surprise,
I was collapsing in the middle of the field,
even though my eyes couldn’t see anything
because of the bright light.
I could still hear it and I heard a voice 99
that seemed to be right next to my ear:
‘Saul, Saul, why are you chasing me?
“Who are you?”
I asked again, bewildered.
“‘I am Jesus.’
The voice answered me. ‘
The person you’re after.
But get up and go into the city,
and you will know what you must do.’
“I stood up, my eyes still dazzled,
I couldn’t see anything.
I was led by my companions and entered the city of Damascus.
There I was left in the home of a follower
of the man who had been crucified,
and for three days I felt completely exhausted
and could not eat or drink.
Then a man named Ananias came to see me,
who said he had been visited
by a light and was ordered to come see me.
Then he put his hand over my eyes and I saw again.
I eat, I drink, and health returns to me.”
Hafid was now fully up,
leaning towards the stranger urging:
“I was taken to a synagogue, my presence
as a persecutor of the followers
of Jesus panicked the people there,
but I ignored them and knelt down to pray.
My prayers took them by surprise.
I openly confirm that the man
who was hung on the cross is the son of God.
“They all suspect
that I am trying to deceive them,
am I not the one who caused them so many disasters in Jerusalem?
I could not reassure them
with the change in my heart,
and many of them wanted to kill me.
So I ran away and made my way back to Jerusalem.
“In Jerusalem, what happened in Damascus repeats itself.
Not a single follower of Jesus dared approach me,
even though my prayer in Damascus was spread here.
I continued to pray in the name of Jesus but got no response.
Wherever I go,
I make people disgusted no matter what I say.
Until one day while I was at the temple,
I was outside in the temple courtyard watching people buy
and sell cuckoos and lambs for sacrifice.
That voice came back to me.”
“What did that voice say this time?”
Unable to contain his curiosity,
Erasmus blurted out.
Hafid smiled at his old friend
and nodded to Paul to continue.
“That voice said:
‘You have had my message for four years,
but you still cannot make my word shine.
Even the word of God needs to be sold
to people so that they can listen.
Have I not told comprehensible parables?
Return to Damascus and find the man who is being hailed
as the World’s Greatest Salesman.
If you are someone who can spread my words to the world,
that person will show you the way.’”
Hafid gave Erasmus a quick glance
while the steward thought:
“Is this the man my master has been waiting for?”
The great salesman leaned forward
and put his hand on Paul’s shoulder:
“Tell me about this man named Jesus.”
Now Paul’s voices were completely different,
they came alive with a new volume and force,
he told of Jesus and this man’s life.
The two listen to Paul talk about the long-awaited Jewish people,
worshiping and waiting for the Messiah,
who will come
and unite them in a new independent kingdom of Love,
Happiness and Peace. jar.
Paul speaks of John the “baptizer”
and the coming of a man named Jesus.
Paul talks about the miracles that this Jesus 101 man did,
his sermons to crowds,
raising the dead,
dealing with money changers
and then dying on the cross,
being buried this man’s saving and then resurrection.
Finally, as if to add weight to his story,
Paul took out his luggage.
Take out a crimson robe from it.
He placed the shirt in front of Hafid:
“Sir, you own all the goods that have ever been in this world,
which this man named Jesus has left behind.
All that this Jesus possessed,
he shared with the whole world,
even his own life.
In the place of the gallows,
Roman soldiers threw this bloody cloak to the crowd.
And I got this holy vestment after much searching
while I was still in Jerusalem.”
Hafid’s face paled, and his hands trembled
as he stroked his bloody tunic.
Erasmus was shocked
because of Mr. Hafid’s expression,
he walked closer to his boss.
Hafid kept twirling the ao dai in his hand
until he saw the little star embroidered on the collar…
the sign of ToLa, the man
who made the shirts Mr. Pathros sold.
Next to that small star was a circle
within a square… the mark of Pathros.
Paul and Erasmus watched in silence
as Mr. Hafid slowly lowered his face
into his crimson robe.
Hafid shook his head.
Thousands of these shirts were sold
by Pathros during his years of trading.
Still fiddling with the shirt in his hand,
his voice cracking,
“Tell me what you know about the birth of this Jesus?”
“He left this world empty-handed.
He also came to 102 here,
He was born in a cave that was used
as a stable in Bethlehem during the census of Augustus.”
Hafid’s smile was full of stupidity,
and the two men looked at the old man in surprise
as tears streamed down Hafid’s wrinkled cheeks.
He looked at them for a moment and then asked:
“And was it then that a bright star,
like never before seen,
rose in the place where this child was born?”
Paul opened his mouth to say nothing,
and there was no need to speak.
Hafid stood up and hugged Paul
and the two men’s tears mixed.
Finally the old man turned to Erasmus and said:
“Erasmus, go up to the tower and get me a wooden chest.
We’ve finally found the seller we’ve been waiting for so long.”
“People will forget what you said.
They will forget what you did.
But they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou