What my niece and Kungfu Panda taught me

Dear Guyyi Gubbi,

A by-product of my present context and circumstance is that I am simply unable to spend enough time with you, as I would have ideally wanted to (which is to be there everyday to see the marvel which is your every word and every action). Distance, air tickets, visa, passports and other excuses notwithstanding, the primarily reason for this inability is simply the absence of will and ingenuity, both of which I hope to have one day in abundance.


But between long intervals, when you and I meet, I am astounded and amazed at who you are. There are many kinds of intelligence ranging from the spelling bee winners to prepubescent kids with Phds. They constitute the spectrum of human intelligence that we all know and recognise. You may or may not fall within that spectrum and that only time will tell. But there is one part of your wit that I have seen in the two days you are here and that is what I wish to discuss, lest the absence of this thought and this author later in your life, deprive you of validation that you have earnt and deserve.


The drive to our home from the airport at an unholy hour when I am typically in slumber (as most adults are, all the time in fact), I was kept awake by your animated narration of the Kungfu Panda brand of movies and animated series. Your attention to detail in that story was no doubt impressive. But later in the day when you pretended to be tied down like Tylon only to break free, I felt goosebumps. When you perceived the world within that film and brought it to the outside world, adapted it to meet your requirements for intellectual engagement and introduced all of us into it, it is a sign of intelligence I wish I had.


In you, I saw what lies at the foundation of the success of visionaries, imagination. I suspect that when Einstein arrived at E=MC2, he could visualise it in a many that he could contemplate but could never fully articulate. At the foundation of Tesla’s incredible ideas, lied his ability to imagine what is possible and through sheer effort, he validated the hypothesis that was introduced by imagination. Similarly, I am certain that the greatest of musicians could see the music that they moved the world with. Apple as successful a brand it is today, is the product of a man who never lost his imagination, Steve Jobs.


Human knowledge is the perception of a fact. Its evolution is made possible through two means- contemplation and articulation. Imagination is the means for contemplation. In many ways imagination is the friction between the two pursuits of the human mind- understanding of what is and understanding of what can be. The result like most other kinds of friction, is intellectual growth. That growth allows you to grasp subjects that can often be impossible to grasp through just learning processes. You, like many of your peers, have the gift of imagination and I am already seeing its many manifestations.


A key facet of imagination is empathy. The ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes requires imagination of what the shoe wearer’s world and reality is like. To you, it appears to come naturally. I was myself incapable of this at your age. Your reluctance to barge into chipakka’s cabin while he is in a meeting, reflects that empathy. Your decision to wait patiently instead of leaving to the pool without chipakka who was in that meeting, revealed your concern for me missing out that experience you felt is joyful. Finally, your contempt for the story of Tenali Rama feeding hot milk to the mischevious cat, demonstrated your disdain for inflicting hurt on anyone. These little things- adults are quite adept at taking for granted. But trust me when I say this, your imagination, the means to your contemplation and its manifestation, your empathy, will enable you to acquire knowledge in a manner that my lack of evolution will not allow me to grasp.


Make no mistake, each child is special. Every one of your peer is an extraordinary being in ways that they may or may not grasp. Your talent, at least for the moment, is your imagination and your empathy. Your inclination to make us grasp what you grasp, is special and I hope that you hold on to it for the rest of your life. Should you somehow manage to retain this trait, you will have what this world and its many problems badly need, imagination and empathy.

-Ashok G.V.




2 thoughts on “What my niece and Kungfu Panda taught me

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