At the feet of a guru
Gopal’s 4-year-old surprises him with an unexpected gesture.
(Getty Images)
We live in an age in which it has become fashionable to study at the feet of a guru. Being a bit of a personal growth junkie myself, I must confess to feeling just a tinge of envy for those whose spiritual journeys have brought them in contact with such remarkable feet.

But for those of us who are parents it is scarcely necessary to step out of doors. We can enjoy the pitter-pat of gurus' feet and the rich life lessons generously handed out by our children from the privacy of our own homes.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in Somerset West, and we had come from Cape Town to have lunch with my wife's parents. After a delicious meal, my son, who has just turned 4, was off like a shot to the goldfish pond in the garden. The rain had stopped and he wanted to feed the fish. So while grandpa and I cleared the dining room table, my wife accompanied granny and grandson to the fish pond.

A few minutes later there were shrieks from the garden. My wife had slipped on the wet steps and  bounced to the bottom. What we initially assumed to be just a severely sprained ankle, turned out to be a cracked tibia. So we drove back to Cape Town with a pair of crutches in the boot.

As we approached our house my son said: “I want my chocolate.” 

Remembering that there were a few squares of his chocolate left in the kitchen snacks cupboard, I replied: “OK, as soon as I've helped mummy into the house and made her comfortable.”

While trying to assist my wife up the stairs to our front door, I just made matters worse. We both fell over into the garden and ended up entangled in the Cape Honeysuckle and Arum lilies. My son said: “I want my chocolate.”

I replied: “I'm trying to help mummy. Just be patient!”

My wife was now settled in bed, and I was propping up her foot on a stack of pillows. My son said: “I want my chocolate.”

I replied: “Just wait a few minutes! You'll get you chocolate!”          

As I finished settling my wife in a comfortable position, the phone rang. It was my sister. My son said: “I want my chocolate.”


He started to cry. With the phone in my right hand, I went over to the snacks cupboard, and felt around on the top shelf for the chocolate with my other hand. Since it was close to bed time, I wanted to minimize the effects of sugar in his bloodstream. So I pressed the chocolate against the shelf to break off one square. I fumbled the process, and the square of chocolate fell onto the floor. In exasperation I said: “THERE... THERE'S YOUR CHOCOLATE!”   

He picked up what he believed to be his last square of chocolate, and headed for our bedroom. I think my sister on the other end of the phone heard my jaw drop as I heard his little voice say: “Here Mummy, this will make you feel better.”

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