Once the cough subsided, he whispered, "Go to the backyard. You will find a bundle of twigs. Bring it over here." "Why do you need them, now? Relax. You need rest," the eldest son spoke softly yet firmly. "Do what I tell you," the old man looked at his youngest son. The son ran outto fetch the bundle. Theothertwo rubbed hisfeetand chest to relieve him of pain.
The son brought the bundle of twigs and placed it a little distance away from the cot. The old man smiled, wanly, and told his eldest son, "Try to break the bundle, at the middle." The sons looked at each other. They thought the old man had turned mad.
Yet none of them dared disobey him. The eldest son held the bundle of twigs, at both ends. He pressed down at the ends with all the strength at his command. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. His muscles rippled. He tried, many times. Then he gave up.
"No, Papa. I can't do that." The old man directed his second son and then his last son to try to break the bundle at the middle. Both of them gave up, after trying their best. The old man chuckled to himself. He turned to his eldest son, "Now, pull out one twig and break it in the middle.
" The eldest son did that easily. The second and the third son too could do that without any difficulty. "Got the message", the old man asked. "What message?" The sons asked in one voice. "The twigs could not be broken at the middle so long as they were together, in the bundle.
But the moment a twig got all alone, it was broken easily. There is a message in that. If you remain united, nobody can harm you. In unity lies strength. Don't forget that truth," the old man managed to say it, before another bout of cough gripped him.