Saturday, July 19, 2008

Karmic full stops

Karmic full stops

ONE OF THE MANY TRENDY BUZZWORDS of the contemporary society is ‘karma’. Ironically, I caught a serious whiff of this word through an American who once told me ‘This project is my karma’ and when I asked her what that meant, she responded with a hint of surprise in her tone ‘You don’t know what that is? We borrowed it from you guys! What goes around comes around?’ It was after several such instances did I realize the usage was being associated with the fact that a human being should, at some point of his/her life, pay the price for his/her ill doings. The Karmic Circle, as it were, catches up.

Now the more I thought about this the more it started becoming apparent that there was no way Karma was a circle. If that were the case then the ‘bad guys’ would never pay for their misdeeds until they were in their 90s and by then it just wouldn’t matter. According to me each conscious action of a human is in reality a sentence. What ends it is the Karmic full stop that brings a just end to that action as applicable. You do well – you get a good full stop. The opposite puts a contradictory full stop at the end. Either way, the sentence ends so that you may renew your moment and start working on your next sentence. A collection of such good, bad and ugly sentences is called life. You may, as you read this dribble, have several such sentences currently open waiting for a full stop! So watch out!

Now, be that as it may, I happened to encounter a wonderful little intersection of such full stops the other day. Ill health had strapped me pretty badly thanks to a wide range of gastronomical treats I had been indulging in since I arrived in India. So I decided to hop along to my family doctor and get a check up done. Once out of there I stepped into the pharmacy next door and placed the prescription in front of the pharmacist. The place was oddly crowded for a silent evening since there were several other customers waiting for attention. I asked the pharmacist if they take credit cards. He responded that they do, but only if the bill was over 500 rupees. I then asked him to tally up my bill and tell me the amount so that I could decide.

‘115 Rupees, sir’ he responded leaving me no choice but to pay by cash. So I pulled out two100 rupee notes and handed them to him. After a few moments he returned and asked me if I had two rupees in change. I did, so I gave him two rupees to which he handed back a 100 rupee note. This act got my attention. But instead of saying anything I kept mum and waited for the pharmacist to realize his mistake. Once he had bundled up all my medication I attempted to point him towards sanity by saying ‘…my change?’ to which he pranced back to his counter and returned with yet another 100 rupee note!

I now had a decision to make. Either I could stand there with my aching stomach and settle this or walk away in animated silence. I thought ‘How often does this really happen to me? Never! So why should I interfere with the Almighty’s way of putting a full stop to some sentence in this man’s life? That would be rude! So I did what any self respecting Indian would do – kept mum as injustice happened and walked way.

Now moving on to the second part of this ‘full stop’ series. For the last five years I must have paid thousands of rupees in excess to boorish auto rickshaw drivers in their insane demands to get me to my home. Each time I have cursed them for looting me in such a shameless manner as I found myself helplessly succumbing to their outrageous demands. For a long time I thought ‘One and a half’ should be automatically programmed into their greedy meters so that we can go where we wish without hassles. Anyway – so I stopped this hunchbacked fellow who argued with me for two whole minutes why he wanted extra 30 rupees for my destination. I said 10…and then we settled for 20. I would probably have taken another rickshaw but I was eager to get home thanks to my rumbling stomach so I caved in – again.

We stopped at my destination (a BDA complex on the main road since there was no way he would come directly to my house without grumbling his head off and charging me another 20 rupees for it) and the meter read 40.50 so I said ‘…it is forty…so that is sixty…’ in Kannada, implying that I needed to give him sixty rupees. Karma came knocking at that moment as I inevitably became a full stop to one of his life’s sentences. As I handed him a 100 rupee note (the one from the pharmacist!) he handed me back a fifty and a ten rupee notes. I stood there for a second shocked at this twin stroke of bizarre luck I was having. Had this man forgotten our conversation about the extra buck? Whatever had happened! Or was it that I had now become a full stop again in this man’s wayward life of daylight robbery?

I said a polite ‘Thank you, boss’ meaning every word of it and walked away into the darkness eager to gulp my medication and get to bed.

The final stroke appeared when I called up my brother who I knew was on his way back home. I figured I could take a ride with him. And sure enough, a minute later his roaring 2-wheeler stopped next to me. I was on the phone so as I said my goodbye to a friend and lifted my right leg to get into the pillion seat, I got a cramp. So I stepped away to try again. Lo! My brother took off! For a second I waited to see if he was coming back in a circle – since I knew he had some idling issues with the vehicle – but no! He was gone. I stood there wondering what on Earth had just happened! So I decided to walk off the remaining distance hoping I did not meet any more bizarre instances.

A minute later he resurfaced like a ghost and yelled out ‘Did you not get on?’ to which I smiled back as my only response. ‘Man…’ he said as we drove back ‘…I was wondering why you were so silent! I stopped near the gate and asked you to get down and no response! I thought I had picked up a ghost!’

‘You idiot,’ I responded ‘…you didn’t wonder why the weight on your vehicle hadn’t changed? How self involved are you!’

He laughed heartily before uttering the magic word again – ‘karma!’

©2008. All rights reserved.

4 reflections:

Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

ShaK said...

@Anon - LOL! I do not know if you are being serious or not. But no - I do not have a special 'copy writer' to edit my thoughts. I edit my own rants. :)




Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

Anonymous said...

I read about it some days ago in another blog and the main things that you mention here are very similar