The other day as I returned home from office, I experienced an excruciating pain in my lower back. Since it was too late to seek medical help, I resigned to 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, 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 the picturesque Tenga valley of Arunachal Pradesh. On a sunny afternoon, as I was playing on the riverbed of Tenga Chu, I was intrigued to see a couple of earthworms slithering in the wet sand. I called out to a shopkeeper close by, who 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 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 obtain relief by pressing my back against the hot-water bottle, 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 soon became normal, while the earthworms 'danced and danced' that evening until they would have turned into lifeless bundles.
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 to avoid pain, let's be good and do good. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is a Mumbai-based tax consultant.)