I first heard the word ‘Karma’ when I was at school, I had a little friend who shared her desk with me called Vidya, she had this habit of hitting her forehead saying Karma every time she did something stupid, so, for a long time Karma to me was a word people used when they got angry or annoyed with themselves.
A little later, the same word got an entirely different meaning to me when I found it in the menu of a roadside restaurant, ‘Vegetable Karma’ for only 25 Rs, everyone reading this knows what it was supposed to be. right? Vegetable Korma-sort of a fancy name for curry, but in my defense the restaurant owner wasn’t very good at English, in fact the menu of Chinese dishes at his place hasn’t changed for years. See the picture below-
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It was only in the early 2000’s, courtesy a song by the Aussie band Savage garden called ‘Affirmation’ that I understood what the word Karma really meant-‘What you give is what you get returned’.
I didn’t pay much attention to it till I graduated from med school.
Being part of the medical profession, irrespective of the fact whether we are a doctors, nurses or technicians, on a day to day basis we are faced by numerous ethical dilemmas, and on most occasions we have to make a choice, sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, very difficult choices.
I have seen karma demonstrate itself through different ways in the lives of most of the people I have worked with for the last 2 years, I therefore consider it very important to treat every single person I come in touch with the best that I can offer, sometimes I have succeeded and on few occasions I have failed.
Off late I have been wondering whether the good deeds we do actually come back to us, I know for a fact that the bad things we do come around to bite us sometime or the other, but regarding the good things- I wasn't so sure.
Then, Saturday happened.
Lately my bike has been going through kind of a rough phase, I haven’t been washing it as regularly as I was before, it has been a long time since I got it serviced and the oil tank has started leaking.
Actually It has been leaking for quite sometime now.
When I finally got a day off from work, I decide to cheer my bike up by taking it to the service station, and behold, all the service slots in the station were full, and so was showroom.
With difficultly I got hold of a service engineer, A tall man with a bearded face and frizzy hair.
He looked at my bike and then looked back at me with a sarcastic expression, I know that expression very well-I often give it to patients who treat their body without the respect it deserves, I’m quite sure that was exactly what he was trying to tell me.
“Do you know what damage this can do to your engine sir”? He asked me.
Pretty much, the same way I ask people what damage smoking does to their heart?
In a very professional manner he described to me the present condition of the bike, what could go wrong and what would need to be done.
“Well, I’m going to run some tests and then I’ll tell you what is wrong with your vehicle, the whole process may cost you anywhere between 350 bucks to 10,000 bucks depending on what damage has been done”.
His tone was very similar to mine when I've spoken to patients about various treatment options and their costs.
Clearly Karma was doing its thing.
He made me sign on a paper and went into the overcrowded service station with my bike.
I waited in the customer lounge, my hands gripping each other, I tried to look through he window to get a glimpse of my bike, no use. Neither the service engineer not the bike were anywhere in sight.
Ten minutes went by and I decided to walk into the station and see what was happening.
Vroom….. the engineer drove out with my bike.
“The tests were negative, your bike is safe”. He said smiling.
Hurray! I was relieved.
“I am never going to treat you bad dear”. I told my bike
Karma was alive, but it wasn’t done with me yet.
The service engineer escorted me to the billing section; I watched curiously to see what would happen.
“Charge him 5 rupees”. He told the handsome young man sitting behind the desk.
5 Bucks!!! I thought to myself, Wow!!! I must’ve done something really good the last few weeks at the hospital.
There wasn’t any change in my purse. I offered the billing guy a note of a much higher denomination; he just laughed and looked at the service engineer.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pay your bill”. He said and walked out.
I couldn’t believe what was happening.
Good Karma was real.
Many times I have given patients great news, many times I have helped them get things done quickly, and on many occasions I've treated them for free or at my own expense.
My good deeds were finally paying off.
My heart was bubbling with joy; I looked around and thanked everyone in the room.
This was one heck of a ‘Service’ Station.
I walked out of the lounge with a spring in my step.
The engineer was standing next to my bike.
“Thank you so much”. I repeatedly said to him.
He didn’t bother; I gave him my visiting card and offered him any assistance he would need if he came around to the hospital where I worked.
“No thank you” he said assertively
“My grandfather died there last month and the month before that it was my grandmother”. He continued, clearly He didn't care much for my offer.
“Hundred Bucks”. He said looking at me, No expression on his face, he looked around to see if anyone was watching us.
“Excuse me!” I said sounding surprised.
“That will be hundred bucks sir”. He said in a placid tone.
“But you just said 5 rupees inside”, I said.
He nodded disapprovingly
“Hundred” he said again, no emotion no concern nothing in his voice.
“All the hurry, all the kindness, it was always about the money right”? I asked him.
I took out the money from my purse and gave it to him. He stuffed it into his pockets and walked away
Throughout the ride back home I tried to justify his actions, nothing could compensate for the fact that he had just conned me and cheated his company.
Guess I was just being a sentimental idiot after all.
Guess I was just being a sentimental idiot after all.
There is a verse in the Bible where Jesus asks his disciples if when he returns, would he find any faith on this earth?
2000 years later, I not sure if I can confidently say ‘Yes’ to that question.
I guess the 89 year old man who sits next to me every Sunday with his hands folded in prayer would beg to differ.
Good or bad at least karma exists in some form or the other.
For now I’m not going to let one bad incident hinder me from trying to do to others what I want them to do for me.
Until next time,