I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day.
– The Kite runner
Life has a lot to do with naqqaashi – the art of engraving delicate patterns on soft wood. With every beat, the chisel forms an impression that stays to define and impact a lot of things for eternity. Every impression contributes, but some are more intricate than the rest. That day is a memoir of one such.
Back in the 8th grade, it was one of those days when the teachers would overload you with stifling assessments before the end of sessions and you’d have to fight every inch of your skin and sweat to do them. It was cold that day and the afternoon was husky. I walked out of the school gate nibbling from a piece of cereal bar, tired from the day’s assessments. The math ringed my head and literature swirled my eyes. In midst of it all, this beggar guy appeared in front of me and spread his hands.
He did this every day.
Like a mulla that performs his namaaz five times a day without a miss.
Over the time, I had begun to recognize this little guy. He was short for his age and his belly was huge. His hair was always dirty; his nose always running. His eyes plead their way out. Now, I must tell you that there were a couple of theories which I religiously followed back then. One of them was not sharing food when tired-and-hungry and the other was Karma. Of Karma, I was particularly fond and applied it everywhere. So, this boy clearly deserved the kind of life he was living. I also secretly believed that maybe all these people who beg during the day go and buy weed in the evening and have a bonfire party in the outskirts somewhere.
I shoo-ed the guy away. In my head, I’d saved him from acquiring the habit of getting stoned at a tender age. I was a messiah!
I did that every day.
A little while later, a classmate came running to me excited about some news he instantly wanted to break to me. We collided and thud! The cereal bar fall off my hand into dirt. I looked at the classmate and then at the bar and then at the classmate again. I thoughtlessly tossed it away with my shoe and got engaged in conversation with him.
From one corner of my eye, I kept looking at the cereal bar and thought of myself and the beggar guy. Karma applied: I deserved this!
He appeared out of nowhere like the mulla’s khuda, picked up the cereal bar, slightly dusted it, and ate it like his share of a Christmas cake!
One person could be so many things. The beggar could be a mulla one moment and khuda the other. I could be the judge this moment and victim the other.
Karma? Strange thing!
Featured image by Shalom Christopher