I tried to get up but felt quite exhausted. With Gopala’s support I tried getting up again but in vain. He made me sit on a nearby rock, gave water to drink. I could feel the water flow down my throat through my bones as if a clear water stream flowed in a hot desert. I almost finished all his water. I was looking down, somehow feeling guilty, don’t know why, couldn’t look at him in eye. Slowly he came near and tenderly touched my forehead compassionately. That was it. I broke down and cried profusely. I wept, slowly at first then loudly, just like when I was a child, without any inhibitions. Gopala didn’t make any effort to console me, he stood there with his eyes closed with his hands still on my forehead.
Like the peace after the storm, I too felt calm after crying. Gopala sat next to me and then after a long silence he slowly said:
“My father is a head priest of a big temple in Orissa. Like most fathers he too wanted me to live his unfulfilled dream. I know Vedas by heart, Sanskrit Shlokas is my first language, debate with me in any topic and I can speak for hours. But is that all to knowledge? The true knowledge? The supreme truth? With my mind full of texts and heart empty of experience, I too left it all one day and joined this pilgrimage. When I saw you for the first time, I saw the same longing, same detachment and same desire for search. Tell me my friend, did you find what you were looking for?”
I carefully looked at him and suddenly he felt a whole different Gopala, he looked mature and wiser. “I wish I knew what I want”, I softly replied.
“The better it is,” he chuckled. “At least you don’t have to go through the process of being empty.”
He then got up and suggestively asked: “I am going to visit Dharamshala, a Buddhist town up north. Would you like to join me? Heard the Dalai Lama is also there at this time of the year.”
“Aren’t you going back to the group?” Immediately I regretted asking this question as I guessed what was coming.
“We have left them long back” He said with a smile.