Karma and Sumi's Behavior

Friday, April 1, 2022, 3:00 pm, 340F (10C), Hazy afternoon


I meet bi-weekly with a group of college friends, of more than 50 years, via Zoom calls to discuss various topics. Recently we discussed the concept of Karma (The life cycle of birth-rebirth). Karmic theory is based on reincarnation, which is a central tenet of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain religions.

But there is another karma theory. This is when people believe everything we do creates a corresponding energy that comes back to us in some form or another. Or, simply stated, “What goes around comes around.” This means the consequences of one’s actions will have to be dealt with eventually. Or, as the bible says, “You reap what you sow.”

In the initial years of our married life, I worked and Sumi did not. I woke at 5:30 am to get ready for work. Sumi woke with me to make my tea and breakfast. This routine continued until our first child, Parini, was born. Sumi would nurse Parini and many nights would be up taking care of our daughter. Realizing Sumi was not getting enough sleep, I let her sleep in the morning and made my own tea and breakfast. This pattern of Sumi staying in the bed continued when we had our second child, Jasen. And also continued for more years when we became empty-nesters, as our children went to college.

Fast-forwarding, this month Sumi will be in the 10th year of her disease. In her diseased state, she has maintained a clock-work type routine of her daily activities. This includes staying in the bed till 10 am. Sometimes, when she wakes earlier and lies in bed, I pretend and tell her that I am making Chai (tea) and breakfast. I don’t know what her mind processes but she goes back to sleep. Sumi staying in bed is a big blessing and makes my mornings peaceful. Peggy, Sumi’s caregiver, comes at 9:30 am and makes Sumi’s breakfast and then we get Sumi out of her bed to feed her.

A few years back, I attended a seminar on Alzheimer’s disease in which I heard about a man with Alzheimer’s who would, around 4 pm, try to jump out of his room window to escape from the one-story nursing facility. Upon digging into his background, they found he was a teacher his whole life and around 4 pm every day would leave school to go home. Now, in his diseased state, at 4 pm his internal biological clock told him it was time to go home from school. Thus, him wanting to escape from the nursing home!

With this backdrop, finally, I made the connection of Sumi staying in the bed to our earlier years when our children were born and I would let her sleep in.
The question is: was my action of letting her sleep longer good Karma whose fruits I am harvesting now?

Suppose she had continued to wake in the mornings to make my breakfast. Would she, in her diseased state, still want to get out of bed early in the morning thinking she had to make my breakfast and consequently make my mornings difficult?

I can’t tell for sure. But deep within her, Sumi knows not to bother me in the morning as she got that space when she needed it in her pre-diseased state.