My mother always had a saying for every occasion. But she especially loved one
saying which she constantly used on me whenever I hurt any person or animal. She
kept telling me, "The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes back
to you." I scratched my head every time she said it, trying to understand what
she meant. But it was only when I was ten that she finally explained the meaning
of her favorite 'mantra' and that too,
through a story. This is how the story went.
A woman baked chapatti (a type of
bread) every morning for the members of her family. She made an extra one for
any hungry passer-by who came by and kept it on the windowsill for whoever
passing by to take it away. Every day, an old hunchback came and took away the
chapatti. But instead of expressing gratitude, he muttered the following words
as he went his way. "The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes
back to you." This went on, day after day. Every day, the hunchback came, picked
up the chapatti and uttered the same words. No one else came by to take the
The woman felt irritated. "Not a word of thanks," she said to herself. "Every
day this hunchback takes my chapatti and utters this jingle! What does he mean?"
One day, exasperated and sick of hearing his
refrain, she decided to get rid of him. "I shall do away with this hunchback and
stop hearing his silly jingle every day," she said to herself. What could she
do? She thought for a while and then decided to add poison to the chapatti she
prepared for him!
After making the poisoned chapatti, she was about to keep it on the
windowsill when her conscience pricked her. Her hands trembled. "What is this I
am doing?" she said in horror. "How can I even think of taking away life?"
Immediately, she threw the chapatti into the fire, prepared a fresh one and kept
it on the windowsill. As usual, the hunchback came, picked up the chapatti and
muttered the words, "The evil you do remains with you; the good you do comes
back to you." This time, he gave her an enigmatic look as if he could read her
The hunchback proceeded on his way blissfully, unaware of the war raging in
the mind of the woman. Every day, as the woman placed the chapatti on the
windowsill, she would offer a prayer for her eldest son, who had gone to a
distant place to seek his fortune. For many months, she had no news of him, so
she prayed for his safe return and kept her mind strong in this way.
That evening, there was a knock on the door. She opened it and was surprised
to find her son standing in the doorway. He had grown thin and lean. His
garments were torn and tattered. He was hungry, starved and weak. When he saw
his mother, he said, "Mum, it's a miracle I'm here. While I was but a mile away,
I was so famished that I collapsed. I would
have died, but for an old hunchback passing by. I begged him for a bit food and
he was kind enough to give me a whole chapatti. As he gave it to me, he said
that it was what he ate every day but today, he would give it to me as my need
was greater than his! It was very kind of him, Mum! It really revived me and
gave me the strength to reach here."
When the woman heard these words, her face turned pale and she leaned against
the door for support. In horrified shock, she thought of the poisoned chapatti
she had made that morning. Had she not burnt it in the fire, it would have been
eaten by her own son and he would have lost his life!
It was then that she realised the significance of the words, "The evil you do
remains with you; the good you do comes back to you." Do good and don't ever
stop doing good, even if it is not appreciated at that time. But one day, you
will reap the reward for what you have done. She had fed the old man and he had
saved her son with the very food that she had given him.
The story touched me and I too, understood the meaning of her words finally.
I decided that I would do good in future in order to be blessed with good