What goes around comes around.
We watched an outstanding Kannada movie U-Turn made by the very talented Pawan Kumar (who also made Lucia in 2013) yesterday. U-Turn is an edge-of-the-seat crime thriller. But it also leaves you with a spiritual perspective to ponder over – doesn’t Life always catch up, don’t your actions always come back to haunt you or bless you depending on what you have done? I have experienced this all my Life. I even talk about several instances of ‘what goes around comes around’ in my Book – Fall Like A Rose Petal (Westland). I have come to realize that all retribution and reward happens in this lifetime only. In a sense, as I see it, every moment is judgment day and the more good you do, the more abundance you attract into your Life. And the more you falter as a human being, there’s surely a price you end up paying for your actions. I don’t know if there is an after-Life. I don’t know if the Law of Karma works the way they say it does. But I know for sure that whatever you do comes back to you in equal measure.
I recall an instance from when we were visiting Guruvayur in Kerala several years ago. I had just bought a full loaf of bread so we could feed our son Aashirwad (who was barely a year old then) once we got to our hotel. But as our car backed up, a man, who looked hungry and lost, came up to my window and said: “veshakunnu”. It meant “I am hungry.” I didn’t think. I just handed him the loaf of bread. It was a spontaneous gesture. I just did it. My parents who were with us were shocked at what I had done. Vaani however smiled at me approvingly. As we drove along we stopped at a bakery and bought another loaf of bread.
I didn’t think much of the whole episode after that. In fact, I didn’t even recall it for 17 long years.
In February 2008, when our business problems had snowballed into a full-blown bankruptcy, I had to make a day trip to Hyderabad to meet a prospective customer. I used my Jet Privilege miles to buy my air ticket. We had no money. That day, in fact, the administrator from Aashirwad’s school called to remind me that his last term fees for the academic year had not been paid. It was the last day for fee payment and I was told that without it being paid he would not be allowed to sit for his 12th standard Board exams. I remember calling up our accountant from Hyderabad and asking her to sell a laptop we had in the office to raise the cash and pay the fees. I was exhausted after meeting the client and after dealing with the fee payment crisis. It was well past 2 pm. And I was hungry. In fact, I was famished. I had exactly Rs.900/- with me after paying for a full day’s parking for my car at Chennai airport that morning. Of this Rs.900/- I had to spend Rs.870/- to pay off the Indica cab I had hired for the day. I wanted to retain the Rs.30/- till I reached home – just in case! So, I decided to starve and grab whatever they would serve me on the flight – but that wasn’t going to be until after 8 pm! I told my cabbie to leave the car’s AC on and asked him to go have his lunch.
As I sat in the car and distracted myself by reading the morning’s newspapers for the nth time, my phone rang. It was a friend who I had SMSed in the morning asking if he would be free for a quick coffee as I was in his town! Now, this gentleman had not responded to my SMS. So, I did not even know if he was free, available or willing to meet when he called. The first thing he enquired was if I had had lunch. And when I told him I had not, he insisted that I show up a restaurant near his office in Secunderabad. I tried protesting feebly. But he shut me up. I went to the restaurant and we had a sumptuous meal from a buffet spread. When the check arrived, I told him how embarrassed I was that I could not afford to pay. He reached out, held my hand and said: “Listen, you have always paid whenever you have visited me. Let me do it this time. I was thinking I may not be able to see you today. But a scheduled meeting got postponed, just a few minutes before I called you, giving me this window to do lunch with you.”
I had no words to thank him. I don’t know if he saw me tearing up. When I got on the plane later that evening, I closed my eyes and reflected on the entire episode. And I wondered how we were managing as a family in this ghastly, nightmarish, cashless time. And yet we were miraculously surviving each day – soaked in abundance and blessed with the compassion of people around us, like this friend in Hyderabad. Did we deserve so much goodness in our Life, I asked myself? That’s when the hungry man’s face in Guruvayur flashed in front of my eyes. And I quietly thanked him, even as tears welled up in my eyes, for giving me that opportunity to serve him that day.
It’s been over 8 years since that awakening moment on the flight from Hyderabad. Our crisis endures. But Vaani and I continue to plough on – only because we are helped by the kindness and love of the Universe and its beautiful people. I really don’t know if Karma works. But I know compassion sure does!