Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Experiments With Truth

I was in Sacred Hearts High School, Vashi from Standard III to VIII. We had scouting from Std. VIII - X. I was selected as a scout in Std. VIII and as part of our curriculum, we had to maintain a diary. Till not very long back(probably beginning of this year), I had retained my diary with me. It contained a Scout card with levels completed, my information including my scout house, patrol etc and some writings in an ink pen.

One of the most poignant entries and most vivid in my mind is of an incident I had written about in our Good Deed For Today, which is a motto of scouting. It said of an incident, where I had gone to buy milk and curd from the nearby diary in Sector 3 Vashi. The shopkeeper aunty (a Sardarni) returned to me more money than stipulated, by mistake. I remember till this day, very vividly that moment, when while walking back home, I counted the balance money and was shocked to find that the aunty had made a mistake by giving me a few more Rupees than the balance. I remember going back and telling aunty that she had made a mistake and gave her the excess money back. And her words till today, I wear with pride. She looked at me with a mixture of surprise and probably thankfulness and said: "Honest boy."

I was too young to realize the importance of being or not being honest, but I did what came naturally to me. But all the same, it was my first experience with truth (atleast the first one I remember so vividly.)

The second very important incident I remember is in my Class XI. We had an English teacher (again a Sardarni!!!) named Mrs. Kaur. She was one of two teachers who taught us English and for some reason, I was not particularly in her good books. Now it so happened that I used to do proxies of a chap in my class. On that fateful day, going against my gut feel, I again did a proxy for him in Mrs. Kaur's class. And as luck would have it, she caught it and asked the culprit to stand up, failing which she would cancel the attendance of the entire class. The first time she said it, the entire class kept quiet. The second time, everyone started looking at everyone else. The third time, I placed my bag on my desk and stood up quietly, looking straight at Mrs. Kaur, as a hush fell on the entire class. She looked straight at me and it must have been about 3-4 seconds later, that a boy in another row passed a comment on me. She asked that boy to leave the class, cancelled the proxy, asked me to sit down and continued the lecture. Many people made fun and tried to scare me saying I would be in big trouble for this, but that trouble never came. Mrs. Kaur never punished me for it. I understood I had made a mistake and swore that I would never do another proxy and I mostly kept my word throughout the remainder of my college life.

I think that it is these two incidents that have made me today what I am. For good or for worse. And truly I do not regret it one bit. I never have regretted being honest and straight forward, even when it has brought me a lot of pain and unnecessary conflict.

While I have been in conflicts because of my ways, I have never been punished for being honest. My parents have always allowed me to go free when I have told them the truth. Even my teachers have spared the rod on me when I have been truthful. I have gotten my share of punishments, but never for being truthful. Probably that is why I have never been afraid to be truthful. Maybe it is me, or maybe it is because these people made me such.

Somehow, somewhere deep in my heart, I like to believe that all the good things in my life have happened because I have been honest and straightforward. With myself first of all. And with others. And I believe, somehow it is the blessing of that shopkeeper Aunty whom I didn't cheat and the blessing of my teacher, who appreciated my honesty and did not punish me and instead punished the person who made fun of me, that my life is so blessed. I am privileged to live the life I do and I truly believe that it is the blessings of such people and my parents that have made me today what I am.

Somewhere deep down inside, I also believe that it is because I am a very proud man. I don't like to be seen as weak and I would not want to gain benefit by cheating others or stealing their opportunities from them. I am very proud and I would like to earn my own bread and butter with my own abilities. If my abilities mean I can have cake, then I am thankful for that. If they mean I must subsist on oatmeal, I am thankful for that too. The echo of my words, I found in the book "The Kite Runner", where Baba tells Ali never to deprieve another man of what is rightfully his. I have followed a similar principle all my life and I believe that today what I have is mine rightfully and with grace.

People have told me time and again that I am living in a fool's paradise and I must change my ways or be steam rolled. I agree that my ways might not be the way the world works. But somehow, I am willing to sacrifice a successful career where I could make crores a year for a 15k job if that means I can just be myself and go ahead with my ways. I dont mean to say that I am perfect. I do tell lies when I don't want to get in trouble or to avoid long discussions I don't want to have or to save someones skin. But I am not comfortable with cheating. This might seem very contradictory, but I have a very satisfactory logic which I keep telling myself to keep going this way ;)

Why this post today? I was speaking to Anshum today and this issue came up. And it made me realize that being honest wasn't the way I was meant to be. It is the way that it always had to be...

1 comment:

Anshum said...

Honesty - A virtue so rare yet so precious...As I told you, that's what CLASS lies in !

Narayanan - A true man; an honest man ! Proud to know you...

Cheers !!
Anshum