It has happened twice with me. I don’t know how it happened though. And no matter how much I think of it, the perplexity only grows. So I chose to give Karma the credit for it.
Now, a couple of ants in the room may seem harmless. But when the bigger picture shows that your entire house is surrounded by anthills, you know that colossal damage is on the cards.
Karma is like that, it sees everything with a zoomed-out lens. And so it knows when to send an "anteater". Because you really do get back in full and final what you do unto others. Yes, Karma clears the debt.
The first time it happened when….
I was an Arts student in my second year of college and was majoring in Ancient History and Civilizations. As the syllabus deepened, my curiosity for life in the yesteryears grew. My inherited passion for travel and reading catapulted my interest in the subject.
One of my seniors, a bespectacled boy with an athletic frame and peevish smile had cultivated a fondness for me when I joined as a fresher, and it had only ripened ever since. His mannerisms and lurking eyes behind those rimless glasses made it quite obvious. I ignored. His “help” in getting me notes or books from the library had begun to annoy me to the core. Despite clearly disapproving his advances, disregarding his “friendship” and disappointing him on multiple occasions of light-hearted playfulness among friends and other classmates, he didn’t budge.
One day, as I walked out of the laboratory into the corridor just in time to be able to catch the last bus to the town, he stood right before me. With no time to waste and no energy to talk, I walked past him. But oh! He caught my hand and held it tightly. He flashed that creepy, peevish smile. And in a failed attempt to sound seductive, he playfully commanded me to go with him on his bike.
I was shocked and scared at the same time.
Who on earth do you think you are? Which part of “I’m not interested”, which I had said innumerable times with absolute assertion did you not understand?
I stared at him as anger filled my eyes and then jerked my hand off his hold. I turned around and stormed out of the corridor, climbed down the few steps on to the grassy path, sprinted towards the bus stop, and boarded the bus. The ride back home was blurry.
As soon as I got home, I remember rushing into the bathroom. I stood under the cold shower, shivering with helplessness and anger and disgust. My right wrist felt filthy. I rigorously lathered soap on my wrist. I scrubbed it so hard that it began to hurt. I must have stood there for long because my fingertips turned wrinkly.
The next morning, I woke up with a heavy head. But we had the last anthropology class scheduled for that day which I couldn’t afford to miss. So I dragged myself out of the bed, poured some hot, strong coffee in the carry-out flask, and got ready.
There was unusual chaos in the college. The Arts department in particular was over-crowded. I could see my classmates and professors and students from other departments too. There were some senior and junior students as well. Wondering what could’ve happened, I rushed towards them.
He had a bad accident. He fell off his bike and his head hit the curb killing him instantly.
The second time it happened when….
As part of the final year project, I joined as an intern in the City Museum. Confident about what I studied in college, the job entailed more learning than applying what I had learned in all these years. Frankly, I was fine with it as I got to work with some of the big names in the field.
My reporting manager while my stint there was a kind gentleman in his mid-40s. He had double masters and a doctorate in Social Living. I admired his knowledge and knack of presenting an elaborate picture of how civilizations lived from small unearthed findings. He also taught me how to verify different time frames by studying tools and weapons. My passion for the subject and love of art combined with his knowledge paved a way for ample discussions.
One evening, during the last week of my interning at the museum, I got a little late winding up the day’s work. My manager saw me from across the hall and praised my diligence. I smiled in thanks and continued to wrap up. As I rushed out from my cubicle towards the exit of the hall, he offered to drop me home. I politely refused not wanting to cause any trouble. He insisted. I obliged knowing that he lived three blocks further from mine so dropping me home won’t be any trouble to him.
Seated in the car and starting our drive, he asked me about my schooling, parents, hobbies. At the signal, I felt his hand brush against my thigh when he changed gears. I pulled my leg towards the other side. He casually apologized.
No, I am sorry, I should sit properly.
A little further ahead, it happened again. This time he didn’t apologize. Instead, asked me not to worry. I didn’t think much of what he said but wondered if I had grown fat.
And then once more while he continued telling me about his school and college life.
I responded in monosyllables and pretended to exclaim at certain points, but my mind was going back to that flash of a second unpleasant feeling.......his left hand - with the finger adorning the wedding band - "inadvertently" landing on my thigh.
I had worked closely with him for 3 weeks and none of this “unmindful” brushing happened before. No no, I'm thinking too much out of it. He is a respectable man with a loving wife waiting for him to be home.
Suddenly, I skipped a beat. His hand was grazing my thigh. And deliberately so! This was no mistake. I hadn’t gone fat. He was looking at me as his hand caressed my thigh. I was shocked. He smiled as he looked at me. I was scared. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. My ears were burning. He then lightly squeezed my thigh with his eyes still looking at me as if expecting a response.
What are you doing? I don’t appreciate this. Thank you for dropping me.
I shook my numbness away, jerked his hand off my body, picked up my bag that I had kept on the floor, got out of his car, shut the door with a bang, and sprinted across the signal to reach my street. All this within not more a second maybe. I didn’t bother waiting for his reply. I wanted to get away from this filth. The signal was still red. I ran as fast as I could to reach my house which was about 200 meters away.
Back home, I threw my bag on the sofa and wiping my tears I rushed into the bathroom. I stood under the cold shower, shivering with vulnerability, fury, and repulsion. My thigh felt filthy. My body felt filthy. I scrubbed my thigh so hard that it began to hurt. I cried in rage. I felt disgusted. I must have stood there for long because my fingertips turned wrinkly.
The next morning, I woke up with a splitting headache. Thinking it was my last week of interning at the museum and also I didn’t want them to cut a day’s pay, I coaxed myself to get ready. But my head was spinning so I decided to call and inform the museum office about reaching an hour late.
The receptionist answered the call. There seemed a commotion on the other side. I recited my situation to her and requested her to tell my manager when he walks in. I had to be louder for her to hear me in the chaos. She didn’t sound interested in what I had to say. I doubted if she even listened. I asked her what was going on.
He had a bad accident. His car skidded while turning right from the signal and banged into the pole. The impact was huge and he died on the spot.
So yeah, it has happened twice with me. And I chose to give Karma the credit for it.