His children grew up terrified of him. He expected them to be eager little readers who understood and appreciated Kafka in primary school. Which six-year-old likes to play with mud and cement anyway, or worse—dolls?! His wife remained traumatised for as long as she lived; it seemed she could never learn to cook or do chores as “they should be done”. Today, he lives with a couple of servants in a big house—inherited, we hear—and has successfully and healthily outlived half a dozen family members. Worse: the 65-year-old man doesn’t look a day older than 45.
The divorced lady with her troop of kittens, on the other hand, looks several years older than she is. No one comes to visit her other than pesky salespeople trying to sell self-help books and incense sticks. Her kittens mew her long days away, mewing louder, I think, on special occasions like her kids’ birthdays that she always spends alone. Many people in my neighbourhood claim that her fate is the result of bad karma. She must have been a bad wife; maybe she was unfaithful? When I feel particularly riled at evidence-less accusations like these, I say so. But these people have an indomitable argument:
“She must have committed unpardonable sins in a previous lifetime.”
Arghhh, I want to scream! How conveniently lame to rely on past-life theories to excuse the unfair treatment this woman has got all her life! Karma catches up with you eventually, they claim in ominous tones.
Karma, a dominant belief system in Hinduism and Buddhism that your deeds determine your future, confuses the hell out of me. I want to believe in it because of its inherent righteousness. It is soothing to have faith that misdeeds will be punished and good ones will be rewarded—if not immediately, sometime. But the older I get, the sleepier karma seems to become. People who are pure evil continue to torture those who are less fortunate; cruelty, selfishness, and hypocrisy are almost seen as “street-smart” virtues you SHOULD possess in the modern world “in order to SUCCEED”. Innocent, faultless people who try to help others and be polite are meted out insults, punishments, and ridicule for being so naïve. When does karma plan to fix these glaring instances of sloppiness? Oh, right: in the next lives.
On good days, I find myself trusting karma. When the sun shines down, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, when a zephyr brings to mind happy moments and positive thoughts, I feel charged up to do good, be good. Karma can be very reassuring; it is easier to pardon your enemies and forget your misgivings when you trust that we get what we deserve.
But this changes on gloomy days when my heart is overfull with the injustice around me, when I feel helpless and frustrated at the hideous unfairness of it all. At such times, karma seems to be a drowsy swelled-head, loath to do its work and inclined to rest in the laurels of our religious books.
My dear karma, you are beautiful in principle. Now if you would only open those stunning eyes, look around, and GET GOING.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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