Wednesday, April 27, 2016

H for Honesty

The basis of our character is laid in our childhood. Some things we learn early, and never forget in life. We form certain habits as children, and no matter how hard you try to give it up later as an adult, you just can’t give it up. Habits – both good and bad, character traits – both strong and weak, are formed in us when we were too young to even start distinguishing between good and bad, right and wrong.

One such habit I formed was that of speaking truth and absolute truth and nothing but truth. Sounds unbelievable huh? In this pretentious and insincere world where hypocrisy is the norm, honesty is one trait that’s too hard to find and too difficult to believe. And your incredulity doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

But as I said, I learnt, or rather, formed this habit in my early childhood, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get rid of it. For one, my mother, being a very honest and sincere person herself, passed it on to me genetically. And I grew up watching her, so I basically have it in me from her. And then, there is this little story that I am gonna share with you, that further reinforced this quality into my system.

Well, it so happened that – since I said it’s a story, I am gonna give it a little dramatic start – that I was in Class 2nd and our class teacher went out of the class for a bit. Now she had asked us to not to do a certain thing while she was out. We were just back from our Games session and it is advisable to avoid drinking water for some time. So that’s what she asked us not to do. Some of us did it anyway. Well, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place, but seeing those around me do it, I did it too. When she came back, she asked us how many of us had done it. And that she had a list all the defaulters.

So seeing that she had the names already, I went up to the dais and surrendered myself to her stick. None of the others came up. Now, the time came when we all stood in a line to be at the receiving end of her mighty stick. Slowly, one by one, everyone got their share and left. And then came my turn.

To my utter surprise, she turned around to the whole class, and declared that this girl is the only one who spoke up the truth and therefore I leave her unpunished.

I silently returned to my seat, totally flabbergasted and also feeling a little proud.

It is said that a teacher can have a deep influence in a student’s mind. They are the ones’ who have the power to turn an entire nation around. Sadly, many of them don’t realize it.

This teacher I am talking about is Janet D’silva. About two decades later, that day is still fresh in my mind, and this is the reason why I have never been able to forget Janet ma’m and she always has a special place in my heart.

That day taught me three important values of life – that of honesty, that of owning up to your mistakes and that of obedience.

Thank you ma’m for teaching me these important life values.

I have always had the guts to speak up the truth in all walks of life, no matter what and of owning up to my mistakes without giving excuses. When I have done something wrong, I would simply walk up to the person and tell them, I did it.

But, this has slightly changed over the last few years – you know, ever since I started being a smart person and also based on the many advices I received  I learnt that  sometimes it’s okay to speak white lies in order to avoid something you don’t like to do and that you don’t have to keep saying everything about yourself to everybody with complete honesty. So that’s when I realized that I can avoid questions I don’t like to answer and I am not liable to give an honest account of my life and living to every Tom, Harry and Dick I see.

I don’t lie, per se, I just avoid some questions and I simply don’t answer some. And after all, I have no need to say everything to everybody. Get smart, all you innocent people out there.

The good part about speaking the truth is that you don’t have to remember anything, but just the truth. When you lie, and when you lie differently to different people, you have to remember all the lies you spoke and you also have remember what lie you spoke to what person, otherwise you get caught. And then it is embarrassing, but for some it is not. I have seen skilled liars, who when caught, tell some more lies to cover it up. It’s a vicious cycle, you see. It is so much easier and less burdensome to simply say the truth.

Dedicated to all teachers, and especially to the one who is the hero of this post. Hats off to all teachers out there. 

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