What’s your purpose in life?

Leaf dipping into water and causing ripples

We all have a definite purpose in being alive. Last week I looked down from my aircraft window as I flew into a city I’d grown up in. Just before the plane flew over the city, I saw a huge lake and knew it was the one which supplied water to the city. It brought back memories. Many memories, but one which I cherished was visiting the village round that same lake during my college days and towards evening finding no children on the streets, “Where have all the children gone?” I asked a lady carrying a matka of water on her head. She smiled and pointed to a hut, “They are all in Gopalan’s house!” she said.

I ventured into the hut, and found Gopalan, an old man, with a long white beard. All the children were there and he was telling them a story. The children were so enthralled, they hardly noticed me. I sat and listened and then fell under his spell. Gopalan was a storyteller. But it was not just another piece of village folklore he was giving them.

He was telling them about ordinary men and women who rose from humble beginnings and made a difference in the world.

“Because of Gopalan, most of the children opt to study higher, and we already have an IAS officer who is from our village,” said a man from the village proudly.

As the plane flew over the village, I wondered how many other children occupied high places in our country through Gopalan’s inspirational art of storytelling.

It was not that Gopalan didn’t have work to do. He ploughed his fields, looked after his two cows and a few goats and managed to give his family two meals a day. But instead of thinking he’d done enough, he had found his purpose, in the time he gave, to pushing the children forward.

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Robert Clements
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Robert Clements

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist with an estimated readership of 6 million. He also conducts a short-term writer’s course. Contact him on bobsbanter@gmail.com for more details.