It was the time when I was in Class 8th. There was a guy in my class named Karan. In fact, we lived in the same locality. So coming to Karan. He was a strange creature, seriously, always grossed with a book, sometimes which was related to academics or it was some novel. But mind you, he was not a topper of the class or anything. He used to stammer and avoided being with anyone.  So far, so good. Even I hated him.

Let me introduce myself as Smriti. I lived with my Grandma as my Mumma and Papa worked abroad in Hong Kong.

I really love being with people and expressing myself is a thing I can’t do without. I love partying and I love dashing and super confident personalities. Which is why I had been in trouble one day. What trouble? And why did I  mention about Karan? You will know that as the plot progresses.

Coming to class 8th days. We had a free period and a Maths teacher had a substitute period. That Sir used to teach higher classes but the whole school was afraid of him. So, that day he was going through our Maths notebook. Though I loathed Math like anything, but fortunately my work was completed and checked. After a few benches, he encountered Karan. The teacher went through his notebook,” Why is not your notebook checked?” He asked sternly.

“…  I…wa..s…”

Karan replied with his usual stammer.

He gave Karan ferocious looks and wrote some remark on his notebook. Till date no one knows what remark was written. Rather no one cared, even I didn’t.

After that period we had English. Ma’am saw Karan crying and asked the reason. He showed the notebook and the adjacent bencher Mayank narrated the whole situation. Ma’am asked Karan to wash his face and come. We all sniggered and ma’am retorted “Stop it!”

The whole day, Karan was dejected.  After that bell rang and another day at school got over. I was walking towards home. As I walked across the marketplace, I saw Karan. He was pushing a vegetable cart for the boy who used to roam around selling vegetables in our locality. I was heading towards home but he left his house behind and went on with the boy.

My grandma had seen Karan going with the vegetable seller. As I was doing my homework, Grandma sat on the bed, beside me. She said, “ That boy Karan is your classmate? He’s such a kind boy.”

“So?” I said casually.

“ There can be no other boy like him”

“So why don’t you adopt him?” I sarcastically remarked.

Grandma felt offended, “ Remember my words, judge people by their character, not their appearance”,  and went away. She was always full of praises for Karan, that too for the person who was hated by everyone.

One day, after school I saw him giving 300 rupees to an elderly woman. I went to him and asked, “ Why did you give that lady money? Do you know her?”

“ No b..ut s..he nee..ded the mon..ey fo..r he..r me..dicat..ion so..I ga..v..e it to”

“ You’re mad!! You know what, my grandma used to tell me about this lady who keeps asking for money from every passerby. This time you became a victim to her deception.”

“I kno..w tha..t in ne…ed sho..ul..d be”

“ There is no use talking to you.”

And I left.

As years went by, I reached 11th grade. I felt Arts to be a comfortable stream so I chose it. I became involved in partying in inns, clubs and all. I really loved that time.

That scoundrel Karan fell in love with me, he even proposed to me but why should I accept the proposal by that dumb person.

In that process, I got my boyfriend in Danish who was my classmate as well . He was such a great guy to be with. We had dated for 1 year. I loved him so much. We used to have long chats over phone as well. My grandma who was undergoing heart problem used to say, “ You should leave Danish and focus on your studies”. But I was in no mood to listen. After a few days she passed away. Then it was in class 12th one day, I overheard Danish speaking “ Smriti was such an easy target, right?”

“Yeah Danish, you rocked the challenge completely.”

“ CHALLENGE!!” I shouted with shock.

Danish and his friends saw me. I was in tears. “ You misused my love for you to complete a stupid challenge?”

Danish tried to convince me but I broke up with him. I was mentally shattered after the incident. I had lost my Grandma because of that idiot. My parents were back after Grandma died. They counselled me towards forgetting the whole thing and focus on boards this year.  I forgot about it and had moved on. I kept my parents’  words and I scored 95℅ in my Board exams.

I was very happy with my performance. My parents were happy as well. One day as I was recollecting those days of school, I remembered that idiot, moron Danish.

I erased that thought, then I thought about Akansha, Manjari, Sheetal and Devyani, my favorite juniors and my girlies forever. We even met after my exams. It was a great time, you see. Oh and that stammerer Karan- I was completely obscure about how was he doing those days. He had scored 78℅ I got to know. He might be somewhere, I thought, going on helping people.

So one day, I was dancing and humming while I was walking around my locality. A dog was roaring in front of me. I started to get chill in my spines as the dog barked on me. I shouted “ HELP! HELP!” and the dog barked even more.At that moment Karan saw me in trouble. He appeared before me and said, “ I’ll handle this.”

The dog pounced on Karan and bit his hand. I was horrified and then the dog ran away. Karan was sobbing in pain. I asked him to accompany me to the doctor. But he said, “ No t…hank you. I ca….n’t go as I h…ave promised Mrs. Sh.Sh..etty that I will b… her kid…s till she c..o…mes ba…c..k and I am a..lre…a..dy

“ But what about the dog bite? You’re so grossed in social service that you have forgotten about yourself. I’ll take you to the doctor. Come with me.”

He refused and went towards Mrs. Shetty’s  place. I secretly followed him. It took Mrs. Shetty almost 3 hours to come back. I was worried about Karan. I knew Mrs. Shetty’s kids: They are very mischievous and what if out of mischief they accidentally hit Karan’s injury? I waited for a long time but Mrs. Shetty did not come so I went back home. At home, Karan’s parents were sitting with my parents . Karan’s mother was looking tensed.

“ What happened Aunty?” I asked.

“Smriti, have you seen Karan. I am so worried about this boy. One day his selflessness will make him pay heavy cost.”

After a moment of hesitation, I narrated the whole incident. Aunty was on the verge of crying.

“Why don’t you call him?” I asked

“ His phone is switched off. Had it not been so, why would we have had come here?” Karan’s father replied.

A call came on Aunty’s phone about Karan. Uncle and Aunty both went hastily to the clinic where Karan was.

“He is a reincarnation of Surya putra Karna”. Mumma said.

Even Grandma said this thing. I remember Grandma telling me about Karna- how he was rejected by her own mother as he was born before his mother’s marriage, how he was raised by the family of sutas or charioteers, having being refused to learn the skills of fighting a war as he was not from the caste of warriors that is Kshatriya caste and various curses on him.

For instance, a girl had dropped her pot of ghee and was afraid of her mother’s wrath. Karna saw this and generated ghee out of Mother Earth. As Mother Earth was pained, she had cursed Karna of chariot wheel getting stuck on the Earth. Also how he gave his armour (kawach-kundalini) to Indra in disguise despite the fact that the armour was stuck to his body and knowing Indra had a bad motive for doing so. She also told me about his loyalty to the Kaurava clan despite the fact that he was Kunti’s son, who was in turn mother of the Pandava clan.

Like Kunti’s son Karna, Karan was rejected by everyone in the class, including me due to his stammer, lack of social skills and his sensitive nature.  He was such a selfless creature, seriously. He helped everyone in need but the people never understood Karan’s magnanimity in his actions. It was limited to their task being done. Even his loyalty was commendable. He did not forget the loyalty he had promised to Mrs. Shetty even when he was grimacing in pain. I prayed that he should be fine.

Later in the evening, I decided to meet Karan. Aunty showed me the way to his room. He was sitting on the window sill and watching outside the window. With the reflection he saw me.

“I know, you’re here to make fun of me. I am now used to it.” Karan was in tears.

I felt guilty. During school days, we never thought how Karan must have gone through when we teased him or secluded him.

I sat beside him at the window sill and said, “ Not at all. You are great, seriously. No one can match your level of magnanimity. I have never ever seen or heard about a person like you. Never ever stop doing what you’re good at.”

Karan was crying. I gave him a hug, during that time I recollected a memory of my class when I was given a Dare to hug Karan and I dreaded it, but now it was essential for that selfless being who lives only for others, not for his own self. A hug signifying that I am there for him no matter whatever goes wrong. A bond which was much better than a romantic relationship.

To the rebirth of Surya putra Karna!

Goodness even though, is taken advantage of these days. But still, it prevails and is necessary to maintain peace in the world.