Extraordinary in the ordinary

Paying for karma after 20 years

My walk towards Dachigam National Park, Srinagar comes closest to my vivid memories of the Arunachal’s Tenga Valley.
Published at Hindustan Times.

The other day as I returned home from office, I experienced an excruciating pain in my lower back. Taken aback by this unexpected discomfort, I shifted uneasily and was soon forced to resign to my bed for relief. Since it was too late to seek medical help, I accepted the fact that I had to lie in pain through the night until I could see a specialist in the morning. The ensuing eight hours of sleeplessness and shooting pain soon transported me into a psychological battle with myself, culminating into repentance.

As I lay in bed writhing in pain, unable to come to terms with the tingling sensation and pricks I felt in the lower back portions of my body, I was transported to a childhood memory when I had unwittingly inflicted agony on a group of earthworms and realised that they would have felt a similar pain.

I had spent that summer break from school in 1994 – 95 in the picturesque Tenga valley of Arunachal Pradesh. On a sunny afternoon, as I was playing on the riverbed of Tenga Chu, springing about like Bambi the deer, I was intrigued to see a couple of earthworms slithering in the wet sand. I called out to a shopkeeper close by and asked him to explain me what these creatures were. He simply laughed and asked me if I wanted to see the creatures ‘dance’. He brought a can of salt from his shop and asked me to sprinkle it on the worms liberally and enjoy the show. Ignorant of the consequences, I dropped salt crystals on the worms. Sure enough, they began to ‘dance’ and I clapped and jumped at the unusual sight.

As my body twisted in the piercing pain, shifting positions, I believe I experienced every single stinging sensation the earthworms must have felt as the salt dehydrated and burnt their skin. As I tried hard to get relief by pressing my back against the hot-water bottle placed below me, I realised how those earthworms must have squirmed in pain trying to get rid of the salt crystals by rubbing themselves against the wet sand below. Various questions crossed my mind about my current traumatic pain and the pain of those worms 20 years ago.

The difference of course is that in the morning that followed, I got the best treatment and life was soon catapulted into normalcy, while the earthworms ‘danced and danced’ that evening until they would have turned into lifeless bundles melting away in the wet sand…

I believe I paid for my karma after 20 years. A wrong deed is a wrong deed. It has to be looked at objectively. Once a wrong deed is done, though it may not have consequences in the present, the theory of karma ensures that within this lifetime, all of us will get what we deserve. I believe life comes full circle. So, let’s be good and do good.

This article was published at Hindustan Times.

The sea in the shell
Inspiring light in the sky

I’d love to hear your thoughts.