They always say honesty is the best policy. These words somehow got imbibed in me from the moment I started making sense and walking on my own. I am excluding the numerous times I speak nonsense for now 😛 . My honesty sometimes doesn’t help me but I don’t bother. They say straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first which holds true to some extent as I faced the music for being too honest at many junctures in my life. My honest words , opinions and acts have hurt many folks since my childhood but I always stick to honesty like an iron sticks to magnet due to its benefits in the long run. The fruits of honesty will ripe late but are definitely tasty 🙂 I will rather shut my mouth than being dishonest if the situation doesn’t demand being honest.
Given below is an anecdote from my child hood where honesty definitely paid off.
I used to write the yearly UNO (United Nations Organisation) and UNICEF tests every year which were conducted at the school. It was a national level exam and frankly I don’t remember why we wrote them or what good the percentile or grades did but it was definitely a feel good factor if we top in the test and toppers were even given gold medals. It was tempting to come in to the notice of teachers. That particular year when I was in fifth standard our exam got postponed due to some other unit test on the same day. No one in the class prepared for the UNO exam that year due to the unit tests and some other district level competition. Naturally I had a flare to participate in the elocution and essay writing contests. We were clueless as to how to prepare for the UNO exam which will be just a day after the last unit test. When we were having an ice candy just after the long bell, a brilliant idea flashed in my friend Meera’s brain.
Meera suddenly shouted, “Afshan. The exam got over in Sunshine public school. You know that right?”
Me: “Yep. So what?”
Meera : ” So what what ? Tube-light, let’s go and collect the question paper. I don’t think they would have sent two different papers to different schools. The paper is same for all schools. Am I right Shilpa?” she inquired with one more class mate.
Shilpa: “Oh wow! You are a genius Meera. Why didn’t I get this idea? Let’s go to Sruthi’s place and collect the paper.” She shouted enthusiastically.
Sruthi was our old friend who studied in Sunshine school. I was in dilemma. Other than the fact that Kofi Annan was the seventh secretary General of UNO I knew nothing. I was tempted to go too but was scared by the mere thought as it would be cheating. Every one voted for collecting the paper. I weakly mumbled, “O.K.” and felt shameful even before I did the act.
Me: “But what if we get caught? What if someone sees us?”
Meera: “You get scared a lot Afshan. Why will we inform anyone about this. Its our top secret. Don’t miss this chance. Even last year our scores were not great. Just imagine sister Philomena appreciating us in front of all.” She said in a singsong way. Philomena sister was every one’s favourite and every one tried every minute to get in to her good books.
I remained mute. I wanted to be a silent spectator and reap the benefits of the act. In no time we all went to Shruti’s house and she happily handed over the question paper to us. We all rushed back home and I was huffing and panting and continuously checking the surroundings as I felt some cop might appear and arrest us.
“Arey . Relax Afshan. Don’t be a spoil sport. Chill. Just prepare by using the paper and happily write the exam. These are not academic exams for God’s sake,” chimed everyone.
Me: “It’s not about the kind of exam. I am just scared as what we are doing is not right.” I again muttered with half confidence.
Everybody yawned and said my fears will land even them in trouble so they requested me to cool down. The next two hours went in marking the answers for the subjective, objective questions, essays, and so on so forth.
As we started preparing for the exam just after having Bournvita and snacks offered by mom who was oblivious to this my brother entered my room. He realized that something fishy is going on and cornered me to ask the details.
To avoid the tension which is to the brim I said everything to him. He was angry as I was also a part of the culprit gang. I hastily tried to bribe him.
Me: “Please take the paper and prepare for the exam. It’s the same paper for all.”
He: “Never. Whatever I write, I will write using my knowledge.”
That reply came as a tight slap across my face. I fell silent. He left the room and prepared for the exam in the traditional way, going through the chapters one by one and skipping few things just by a hunch and sometimes writing down the things which he had to revise.
I was always a good student. I was a topper in my class but why did I do this act? Is it due to friends or the urge to top in a safe and smooth way? I didn’t have answers to this but the damage was already done. I already knew the paper hence I couldn’t concentrate on the rest of the book. I just by-hearted what all I had to and went to the exam hall the next day. I couldn’t meet my brother’s eyes before leaving for the exam. Thankfully he did not disclose it to mum, dad.
Exam got over and I finally let out a sigh of relief. Strangely I was not feeling good about my performance. In fact I felt it was below average. There was no feeling of accomplishment. My friends were happy though and my brother was beaming. I heard him telling his friends that he felt paper was easy. I was jealous and irritated by this. He didn’t give a single glance at the stolen question paper. Weird! That was the single word I could mouth at that time.
After a week or so we got the results and you all would be puzzled to know that I scored 80% and my brother scored 91%. He got national level 4th rank and was given a medal. All my friends got around 75-80%. I became stern. I did not understand how that was possible. I finally realized that my brother gave elaborate answers to each question with the knowledge he had and we just vomited what all we by-hearted and came out of the exam hall faster than everyone else. My brother’s victory added more fire to my agony. I told him what I was feeling. He suggested me to narrate everything to mom, dad to feel better. I did it without delay. They were calm and appreciated me for being honest and suggested that next time if I feel like doing something of that sort I should remember my brother’s 91%.
The next day I was feeling too guilty when I saw sister Philomena. I requested her to talk to me after recess and told her everything. I didn’t give each and every detail to her but just said that we were playing with Sunshine school pupils and accidentally got hold of the paper. Yes I had to lie so that my friends escaped the punishment. She was a kind soul. She smiled and appreciated me for my honesty and said that it would remain our little secret. She said that as we purposely didn’t do it its fine. I was dying inside as I had to lie.
That day I learnt a big thing that honesty will definitely pay off in the long run and the fruits of honesty are sweeter than the fruits of lies, guilt and dishonesty. I for sure felt better after narrating it to the concerned people. A burden got lifted off my heart. My brother appreciated me too and from that day he was and still is my biggest inspiration. Being honest to yourself and having a clean and clear conscience will surely help you any day 🙂
I end this article with beautiful quotes I read!
No legacy is so rich as honesty.
Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.
I used to have the below lines pasted on my cup-board during my school days. These are my most favorite lines till date.
“The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
― Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council