My two-year posting at Calcutta from July 1994 to July 1996 gave me a very good opportunity to go to various places in Bengal and also to meet a large cross-section of people with different backgrounds. Calcutta itself is a culturally rich city where material considerations are lesser than similar other cities in the country. It boasts of very good institutions here and one is likely to come across many great personalities as well as a wealth of information. I could not scan much of the city because of the nature of my job but despite that, I met many wise and learned persons and learnt valuable things from them. One such person was Pratap Chander Chunder who had been the Union Education Minister in the Janata Government of 1977, and was currently the Chairman of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Calcutta Centre.
Once I visited P.C. Chunder with the Kendra Director, K.V. Gopalakrishnan. He lived in the old part of the city in his ancestral house. The family had been in the legal profession for generations and Shri Chunder himself was a practising lawyer at the Calcutta High Court. When we met him, he was sitting in his office. I found that his office furniture was very old and he himself appeared so simple that I was surprised. We talked on various subjects for about half an hour. During our discussion, some reference was made to the attitude towards life and I said that life was like a glass of water which is half full and half void and we should look at the filled portion of it. To this he gave a very interesting response by saying that the void portion is equally important as one can get a lot of inspiration from it. I could understand the point immediately and we did not discuss it further.
Subsequently, I contemplated over this piece of advice and tried to analyse it further. It is true that in this imperfect world, no life can be full in the true sense. However, making it full is the main objective of life and the imperfections of the world have to be seen as opportunities to do so. Seen from this viewpoint the void of life becomes very important because they set goals for us and make us strive to achieve them. While one should make the best use of what is already achieved, one has to work earnestly for what has yet to be achieved. The determination to do so comes only from the void portion. If one keeps looking at the filled portion only, such inspiration and determination may not come at all. Here we are not talking of the materialistic rat race of common parlance. The reference is to those achievements which help in taking us to the goal of life. Of course, needful material achievements also fall in this category. If we look at the voids of life this way, they can give us a lot of inspiration and gradually it should be possible to lead a totally fulfilled life. Such a life is a really enriched one and will help us reach the goal of life. The voids in the lives of others should also be seen in the same way and they should be inspired to fill them. Thus, we can help each other in making life richer and reduce the imperfection or the voids of the world.