Of divine retribution

September 26, 2021

Life is never as simple as being all good or all bad; there are always shades of grey

Of divine retribution

A drama series by the name of Makafat was aired on Geo TV recently, in which divine retribution is the mainstay. Some of its episodes highlighted important social issues but some were rather farcical where the characters were little more than caricatures and the ending was downright predictable. Hence, the title (Makafat).

The series apparently minted high TRPs for the channel. No wonder it went on into its third season.

What is divine retribution and how many people believe in it? Is it really the way our TV plays portray it — where the evil and scheming characters are almost invariably punished, and the innocent are rewarded — or is it a gross oversimplification of the entire concept of ‘karma’?

It sure is ‘indoctrinated’ in us right from our childhood that as you sow, so shall you reap. We have been told that we only have two options in life — right and wrong. If we follow the right path, we shall be richly rewarded but if we do that, we may also have to pay the price. As I see it, we have to pay the price for whatever choices we make in life.

If you always follow the straight path, other individuals might treat you as foolish and take advantage of your honesty which is not the desired outcome. Or, is it? You may not always reap the benefits of being straightforward and upright because that is not how the world works.

Good and bad overlap and they do throughout life. Life is never as simple as being all good or all bad; there are always shades of grey, something that makes the entire concept of divine retribution seem simplistic, if nothing else. No one is all good or all bad — we are generally a mix of both. And to think that someone is in a situation because they ‘deserved’ it, is stretching the concept way beyond logic and reason.

Circumstances also play a huge factor. A good man who always follows the straight path may be forced by circumstance to indulge in wrongdoing. Does that wipe his past clean? Does that mean he should now be punished for doing something which he had to do in order to survive?

As Charles Darwin said, life is a question of the survival of the fittest, and the fittest individuals mould themselves according to circumstances. A tree which does not bend, breaks, while the one that does, survives the thunderstorm of life. In addition, we are all a product of our past and the past has a tendency to repeat itself. Only very strong individuals can put the past behind them and start afresh.

Of divine retribution


If you are a product of your past, can you help not repeating it? Yes, you can. All you need is a determination to free yourself from the shackles of the past and mould yourself according to the present circumstances. Of course, this is extremely difficult but not impossible.

I will use a very simple example. A very domineering or what we consider as the typical mother-in-law might be the way she is because her own mother-in-law gave her a tough time so she is only repeating what she saw. Our playwrights famously subscribe to this ‘theory’ — remember Yunus Javed’s old PTV classic, Waadi e Purkhaar?

Umera Ahmed’s plays, in particular, come to mind when you think ‘makafat e amal’. Take her Doraha, for instance. Or, Meri Zaat Zara’e Benishaan. In both the shows, our good-natured female protagonist was pitted against an evil-minded, scheming character (a mother in law or a sister in law), and made to suffer humiliation that she did not deserve. But as God’s great plan would have it, she’d eventually come out of it all — clean, untarnished and glorious.

But is that the right way to think about things? If you are a product of your past, can you help not repeating it? Yes, you can. All you need is a determination to free yourself from the shackles of the past and mould yourself according to the present circumstances. Of course, this is extremely difficult but not impossible.

Of divine retribution

The personality traits you embody also play a crucial role. But again, can personality traits be changed? Can you change for the better? Of course, you can but it’s far more difficult than changing for the worse. And of course, as you grow older, you become more and more rigid and increasingly inflexible.

Divine retribution is not very desirable because it brings no modicum of pleasure or satisfaction; it only intensifies the pain and the misery. Revenge is always a double-edged sword; very few individuals gain any satisfaction or pleasure from watching their enemies suffer. Again, you would have to be very vindictive or revengeful to derive any pleasure from watching those who wronged you suffer.

Most of us mellow with time and learn to forgive rather than bear grudges, and those who do, are generally very unhappy creatures themselves so all they do is spread and attract more and more unhappiness as they go through life.

Of divine retribution

Our television serials, in an effort to play to the masses, show divine retribution because it gives a modicum of hope to the viewers. It feeds their fantasies and illusions and makes them believe that all the misery and suffering they are going through in life will be compensated for and the perpetrators will suffer and that is how God will reward them. But following on from the same example above, if you have been demonised and victimised by your mother-in-law all your life, to see her suffering from paralysis or a life threatening illness at a later stage in life will only add to your misery. It will not give you any relief from the pain you suffered because divine retribution is never as it is portrayed to be.

Of divine retribution

Cultivate a positive outlook in life and spread positivity because that in turn will attract positivity and goodwill. Circumstances do play a role but generally speaking, good and honest individuals are tested in life more than the others.

Divine retribution might not always be what you expected it to be so do what you have to do and remember, there is a price to be paid for everything in life and the good and morally upright individuals are not exempt from it.

Of divine retribution


The writer is an educationist and can be reached at [email protected]

Of divine retribution