A Tale Of Karma – What Goes Around, Does Come Back Around

 

She sat in the café, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window, her hand felt colder than the sharp, lethal steel of the knife. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.

Early mornings are always special. Hard on the body as you fight against the forces of laziness though they are, they are nevertheless special. The scent of dawn is tantalizing to the senses. Nothing can be as soothing as a thick woolen blanket covering you from neck down, hands and legs all cuddled up inside, providing warmth that teases you to go back to sleep whilst it is chilly outside.

The warmth of the blanket and the mattress contrasting drastically to the cold outside feels like heaven on earth. Except that this man did not have that luxury.

Early morning, yes. Was it hard on the body? Yes. Scent of dawn was tantalizing to him? It absolutely was. Woolen blanket and thick mattress provided much needed warmth from the cold? No. There was no mattress, leave alone a thick, woolen blanket. There was a makeshift pillow made of clothes, ragged at that.

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Early mornings are always special. Hard on the body as you fight against the forces of laziness though they are, they are nevertheless special. The scent of dawn is tantalizing to the senses. Nothing can be as soothing as a thick woolen blanket covering you from neck down, hands and legs all cuddled up inside, providing warmth that teases you to go back to sleep whilst it is chilly outside.

The warmth of the blanket and the mattress contrasting drastically to the cold outside feels like heaven on earth. Except that this man did not have that luxury.

Early morning, yes. Was it hard on the body? No. Scent of dawn was tantalizing to her? It absolutely was. Woolen blanket and thick mattress provided much needed warmth from the cold? Yes. There was a thick, woolen blanket covering her, chin down. There was a soft, spongy pillow of cotton – just soft enough so as to feel comfortable and just hard enough so as not let her head sink into it. 

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He got up. The massive skyscraper at the entrance of which he lay hid the sunrise behind it. But nevertheless, the dull glow seeped through, illuminating the buildings around it, and slowly, it would illuminate the entire city.

Now that meant he had to be up and running. The madness and the race would begin. The traffic would pile up. People would fill up the sidewalk. And there is the sun, yes the sun. It would shine down upon him directly above him by the time the clock strikes noon. But these were not the reasons for him to rush. He had to rush – more so than the busiest CEO has to from his penthouse apartment to his corner office in this metropolis during peak hours on a Monday morning. He had to rush – because otherwise, he will be forcibly hushed away by the security of the residential skyscraper. He had camped at night for the past three days. Now he’d have to find shelter for the night somewhere else.

Every morning, a gazelle wakes up knowing it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning, a lion wakes up knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

But now, in daylight, he will strive to find a living.

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“7:00am! The alarm is ringing!”

That was the name of the alarm on her phone. And yes, the alarm certainly rang. And it rang out loud. She kept the most annoying of sounds as her alarm – that of a tractor in full throttle. It was necessary to wake her up from slumber after a hectic day’s work. She cursed under her breath every morning, pressing the snooze button.

“7:10am! The alarm is ringing again!”

That was the name of the same alarm on her phone, only it was optimized for ‘snooze’. And yes, the alarm certainly rang. And it rang out louder. She got up this time, and turned it off. She pushed the blanket and the comfort it gave along with it aside, and jumped awake from the single bed.

She looked around her place. A single bed, a window behind it providing daylight, a table and chair set beside it, and a bathroom at the other end. It was ideal for a young spinster staying alone in a new city. Looking outside the window, twenty floors down, she started to flinch. There were a few puddles here and there, big ones at that, which’d make her drive uncomfortable. It had rained a bit yesterday apparently.

Every morning, a gazelle wakes up knowing it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning, a lion wakes up knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

She’d have to head out. She’d have to rush. She rushed to get ready.

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He looked up. Or did it seem like they looked down? Either which way, he felt intimidated by the enormity of the buildings. This was downtown, densely packed, bustling. It was morning now – the rush hour and peak hour.

8:00am.

Pulling his backpack higher, he crossed the road.

Red became green unbelievably swiftly.

Honking of vehicles filled around him. He ran to the other side and turned back instinctively to see a small girl, panic stricken as a few vehicles whizzed past her.

Now he sprang backwards whence he came, caught the girl by her arm, lifted her up, caught a fleeting glance of her mother, poor mother, literally and figuratively covering her mouth with fear before launching himself to the other side. He narrowly missed a couple of cars – the signal read green, so green is the signal apparently, irrespective of the presence of a human or not. He meandered swiftly. Upon reaching the other end, he laid the child softly on the sidewalk. The girl was still tensed.

But he was not on the sidewalk.

He was knocked down by an oncoming car. The side of the car knocked him. The rear view mirror broke. There was a searing pain in his leg and his face was scarred slightly from the fall.

From the corner of his eye, he saw the mother running – running not to her child, but towards him. He felt dizzy, giddy even.

The gazelle had fallen.

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She walked past the buildings in the business park, hurriedly. She was late today. She was never late. Today would be the first time. She had a client call of high priority to her project. Her hopes were banking on the success of the call. Her promotion banked on it. And her boss was not the easiest man to please.

Opportunity knocks the door only once. But she had created another door for opportunity to knock. And that door was today.

She hurried on, cursing at every single person in her way. It so happens that when one is in such a hurry, that everything and everyone on the planet seems like an obstacle. Well, one might be on the other side of the coin too.

What goes around does come around after all.

She waited for the elevator. Waited, and waited. Finally, it came to the ground floor. The doors opened, only to show it filled with people who boarded it at the first floor to go upwards again. One of those days, in which nothing goes your way.

She took the stairs. She climbed up fifteen floors. Of course, she cursed everything she had encountered from the morning on the way.

9:30am.

She was half an hour late. She opened her phone extension logs and her official mail database.

She slapped herself – both literally and figuratively.

The lioness had fallen.

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 Now there was another man. Well into his forties. His journey to work was far worse. He had encountered an accident. He reached his cabin at 10:00am. He cursed Monday morning blues primarily and, of course, the alcohol of yesterday. He had quarreled with his wife too, which had become a no brainer these days. Maybe he would cite the opposite – that it was his wife who quarreled with him first – one will never know.

He finally reached his desk after what seemed like eternity.

He opened up his logs and mails.

An employee had disappointed.

Through the employee, he had disappointed.

Through him, the company had disappointed.

They had failed.

From penthouse apartment to his corner office, everything was going wrong; everything started to seem all artificial.

From penthouse happiness to corner office achievements, all of it seemed to be artificial.

His phone started to ring. It was his boss – the only person to whom he was answerable in the entire company.

The lion too, had fallen.

*******************************************************************

The mother held her little girl tightly as she helped the man into the hospital wing. He was not seriously hurt, but he needed medical care at least for dressing of the wounds.

The homeless man had saved her child’s life. She was indebted to him. She had brought him all the way here. She had accompanied him in the ambulance.

The single mother was not single anymore – the family was reunited.

The man came out, smiling broadly through his pain. He brushed aside the doctor’s suggestion that he stay at least for the day.

There was a glow of happiness on the three faces – of the man, the woman, and the child’s.

They were reunited after a disaster separated them two years back.

It was happiness that no currency can buy.

The gazelles had transcended to lions.

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She had lost it. She had lost the deal. She had missed the client call. She had lost the promotion. In fact, her services were suspended for three months. It had all escalated. She had broken up with her fiancé. She lost almost everything in just one day.

She felt horrible. Never before, had she failed. This was her first failure – multiple failures, rather, all at a single go. It was so cumulative that it felt like she had to bear the weight of a mountain. She felt like she was being pulled down to the ground, below ground, underground and that she would never be able to come back up.

Failure can leave a deflating effect. The one that makes you feel you would never be able to succeed again.  And having multiple failures, including emotional and relationship-wise, was too much to take for her.

 It was evening now. And it was raining.

She felt suicidal. She had nobody now.

The alley was dark, narrow and just behind a hospital. The hum of the generators was annoying to the ear. She held up a knife – a knife that she found in the trashcan of the hospital’s cafeteria behind which was the alley. She held it up.

For the first time in her life, she felt like she wanted to kill herself.

It might be slightly painful, but if she bore it, she would find eternal peace from the madness and the mad rush. Enough of this!

She looked around her. The coast was clear. There was nobody around. She held it towards her neck. It will be swift, she convinced herself.

But then, something happened. Somebody grabbed her from behind her. The stranger grabbed her hand and the knife with it and turned her around.

Wait, what was happening? Suicide was going to turn to murder? The end would be the same nevertheless, but, what was happening? Who was this stranger?

She struggled and moved away with great difficulty and gasping, had a look at the intruder.

He was a middle aged man. She widened her eyes.

He was the same man she had knocked over with her car in the morning and drove away. She was too scared to stop and help, leave alone claim responsibility. It was a typical ‘hit and run’. She thought she had killed him. But apparently, no, she had not.

But why was he here? Yes, he had come for treatment in the hospital behind her. It was all making sense. It was such a whirling day, she forgot that she was in the very same alley that was perpendicular to the route she had taken in the morning wherein she had hit this man.

So, was it his ghost? No, no. He was very much alive, and he was not injured very badly though. There were just a couple of dressings here and there, on his face and forearms.

He spoke.

“Thank you.”

She was perplexed.

“What do you mean? I am sorry, I, I…” she struggled with the words.

“It was meant to be. You knocked me down, yes, I remember your face very well. You did not kill me, but your hitting me caused a beautiful woman to come rescue me, returning the favour of me helping her daughter – our daughter from being hit. Yes, I got reunited with my wife and daughter after two years. We were separated by the earthquake two years back. In fact, I must thank you for the fortunate misfortune.”

She looked on, still perplexed.

The middle-aged man continued.

“Why do you want to kill yourself?”

She managed to speak out, slowly and steadily. The middle-aged man laughed.

“Failures come and go, friend. I, for one, was a depressed soul until today, thanks to you. Trust me, in future, you will be carrying this forward to someone in need of it.”

“The problems we think about do not exist in reality; they exist in our minds alone. Life is all about perspective. Life is a game. Play it.”

She was stunned. A homeless person could be so wise, yet here she was not having understood life in its entirety.

There was a slit in her throat, a small slit, accidentally caused during the tussle. She held the blood stained knife in her hand.

“Let that be a mark that starts a fresh chapter in your life, just like the mark you gave me.” He said, pointing to the scars on his face from the morning.

And he left.

She was hungry. She went to the nearest cafeteria.

She sat in the café, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window, her hand felt colder than the sharp, lethal steel of the knife. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.

She looked at the hospital, the alley, the accident scene and her multi-storey apartment, all nearby each other. Fate. Luck. Life.

But then, she saw her boss go down the alley. He held a knife in his hand. He looked slouched and dejected.

She smiled. She got up, went outside towards the alley. There would now be another blood stained knife.

Nobody stays a gazelle forever. Nobody stays a lion forever.

What goes around indeed does come around.

Karma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments

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  1. Excellent narration! Loved the lines about the lion running faster than the slowest gazelle.

  2. It all starts like a James Hadley Chase thriller! The coldness, steel, lethal, blood, etc…. But, the title Karma still keeps lingering at the back of the mind, and makes us expect something else. The way the different characters are introduced is lucid! One meanders along with the characters through their daily routine like a cameraman behind the artists. The story ‘s ending do-good-feel-good-and-in-turn-do-good…. becomes a chain reaction and justifies the title. All is well that ends well……

    • Yes, thanks for the encouraging words.

      That is precisely how I wanted to it to be – one would have expected a different plot when the title says ‘Karma’, but I tried to show a different angle in which it is payed forward.

      Delighted the reader felt the same way too!

  3. Beautiful composition, compels us to believe how we are slaves to our thoughts and perceptions. Yes, the laws of Karma manifested beautifully through the storyline.

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