The short story ‘Karma’ is written by Khushwant Singh. The story highlights some points – acceptance, identity, insecurity, shame, control, heritage and self importance. The story is narrated by an unnamed narrator (third person). After reading some of it, the readers realize that Singh will understand the importance of self importance. Sir Mohan Lal considers himself to be better than other Indians. Lal is in favor of taking the role of an Englishman so he has abandoned his own culture and heritage. Lal appears to be arrogant and like Englishmen after staying five years in England. Lal desires to travel in first class along with his wife away from other Indians. Lady Lal is not like Lal. She is not in need of adopting English culture. She feels the train station and the train like her home. The one thing which is noticeable is that she chews betel leaves.
Lal wants to take complete control over Lady Lal. Lal travels in the first class compartments which are meant for English people. He considers Lady Lal to be his subservient so that she will travel in the general compartment, not in the first class one. Lady Lal is comfortable in that. Lal does not consider him to be an Indian and makes his aura like an English person. Lal uses The Times newspaper as a tool to prove to everyone that he is intelligent. He wants to portray that he is an Englishman. Lal wants to change himself completely rather than being proud of his own achievements and keeping his original identity. He wants to forget about his roots completely.
Lal only wants to give everyone the expression that he is an Englishman. He considers himself to be a man of substance. We can notice that two English soldiers throw Lal out of the first class compartment. The first class ones are meant for Englishmen and Lal is only an Indian to their eyes. This shows colonialism in Indian society. Many English people consider themselves better than Indians just like Lal considers himself better than his wife. Lal is basically an imposter to the Indians because he considers himself better than his wife and his fellow brothers. Lal sees no virtue being an Indian and is ashamed of himself. However, many Indians are proud and consider themselves lucky from where they come from and not having any wish to change their identity.
The train moves off and Lal is left alone. In life, we should always try to move forward. Though, Lal in his life did not do this. He stays on the platform while Lady Lal stays on the train. Individuals who are disregarding their own culture and heritage are fooling themselves. It is impossible to change one’s identity due to other’s actions. A person is judged by his appearance just like Lal as he does not look like English people. If Lal would have been proud of his own heritage, he would not have criticized Lady Lal but also not have faced terrible outcomes.