If I were given the task of writing a dictionary definition….

Karma [kahr-muh] -noun

1. The sun was especially fierce. Beating down on the surface of the sea in a barrage of rays. Refracting off the waves, the dull green of the water came to life with the lustre of a desert. Yellows and oranges, sparkling like sequins, on an ever-changing landscape.

This particular part of the Indian Ocean looked like any other water mass on the planet but it is here, that my story begins.

One little water molecule happened to find himself at the forefront of his family’s perpetual gathering. He begins to feel a warm sensation all around him. As he looks down to find a beam of light piercing his translucent body, he begins to get excited, bouncing and ricocheting off his neighbours.

Eventually it all gets a bit too much for our little friend. Shedding the ties that join him to his brothers, he takes to the air, floating in a new sea of wondrous gases.

We meet our protagonist a long, long way from our first encounter. After weeks in flight, the little water molecule had endured a range of attacks. Furious winds that took him over great expanses of land, great wafts of air causing him to rise and the worst of all, the constant attack from acidic little molecules trying to hitch a ride.

But finally he was amongst friends. Gathering in a large pocket of cold air, he found his companions. After a fair few hugs and sloppy kisses from long distant aunts he once met in Ecuador, our little friend suddenly feels a chill. It runs right through him, making the atoms on his back stand on their ends. Instinctively he clings on to an especially oblate water molecule he seems to recall seeing in a tributary just south of the Tiber. Others around them begin huddling around. He franticly looks over his shoulder, through an old friend from Bangkok, and notices thousands of groups like his huddling together.

The weight of his new formed party is too much for the air to bear and so they begin to tumble. Falling through the atmosphere, he sees past the hoards of other water molecule and for the first time in a number of months he sees green. A wonderful deep green, riddled with a grey cancer that tears in honeycomb streaks across its façade. Descending at maximum velocity, our poor little friend feels like he is being torn atom from atom as his supposed friends, cling on for dear life.

His life flashes before his eyes. Sunsets off the Ivory Coast, lazy afternoons in the Nile and a couple of stints in the sewers of Chandigarh.

And yet he falls. Careering towards the ground at an alarming rate, nothing can stop him, nothing is in his way. The force of the air around him, burning on the surface of his rippling body.

Fate is inexorable.


And so, as always, things run their course. But their course may be dictated and skewed by forces incomprehensible to nature as it stands. And as many great men before me have observed, we are but observers.

A rain drop hits my nose. I look up at a blue sky. Oh no, wait. Blue, bar one small grey cloud circling me like a non-descript vulture. I’m on the bench again. Yes, overlooking the town I grew up in. Trying to conceive the concept of Karma. Trying to capture a moment to myself without the distractions of socially instilled life. And it dawns on me.

This mild annoyance, this thorn in my side, this little raindrop. Could this tiny, nearly insignificant act, be the result of cosmic powers conspiring to cause me injury, in return for my shameful act of spitting chewing gum into a bush last week? (Yes I know its bad. But thankfully, I am not resident in Singapore).

Could this rain drop have been coaxed into falling directly on my nose, mid-thought, just to punish me for a previous sin?

That, as it stands, is my understanding and definition of Karma.

There seems to be the notion that as we go about our sandwich eating, coffee drinking, pet keeping existence, there is a power above us that keeps a certain general balance.

I tend to think of it as a ‘cosmic blackjack dealer’. This omnipotent, card bearing, visor sporting, casino worker.

But this ‘cosmic blackjack dealer’ has a way to deal certain cards to people he wishes. With a kind temperament and a deontologically bound morality, he fixes the cards to either help or hinder the billions of humans that find themselves around the table we know as life.

And so in line with this concept of charity, if I were to lean across the table to the tatty clothed, cider smelling, penniless homeless person to my left, holding my nose from the stench and pass over a few of my chips, I would then be rewarded with a nice little ten pair or something of the sort.

If I remained at the table, just playing away, not helping anyone one else with the abundance of chips I find in my grasp from good fortune, then I would get dealt hand after hand of poor flops and folds.

So in essence, Karma dictates, that to be successful and reap from the favour of fortune, you must in turn, spread your fortune.

This may be the most extravagant and long winded dictionary explanation of a word, but I feel it is needed when addressing a concept so vast in it’s connotations and endless in its permutations.

Nota bene. I have explained Karma in the context that I wish to use it and not in the traditional sense of retribution through re-incarnation.

For your patience, I thank you.