Monday, October 31, 2016

Once Upon A Time Only Honesty Was The Best Policy

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It was summer. Not the one of 69. But 99 and unlike Bryan Adams those were not the best days of my life. I was in class 9th and my school principal knew me by name. In those days, even if your class teacher called you by name and not just a blaring “YOU BOY!!!”, then it mattered a lot. So when my Principal, Colonel B.R Sharma, knew me by name I had all the reasons to enjoy envy of my friends.

My brother likened him to Mahatma Gandhi, I likened him to Hitler.Perceptions can alter even when you have a similar upbringing. After biting time ideally in his plush chamber and having surpassed all  morality limits in thrashing kids he pacified himself in conducting Moral Science lectures for young kids. A decree was passed that every student should buy and carry his own Moral science book during each class. Amid much obese books of Social Studies, Science and Mathematics, the Moral science book was like zero size Kareena Kappor among the latest bollywood queens. We carried the book not only on Fridays when his class was designated  but on all days. Not because of love of Kareena  but because of fear of Col. Sharma.

Since those days were not the best days of my life so I forgot the Moral Science book on a particular Friday. After several rounds of my prayer pleading God to annihilate the Principal altogether went unheard, I dexterously opted to conjure the Sanskrit book of similar dimensions as the Moral Science book and hid behind a wall like structure of a friend.

The Principal after wasting time in roll call threw his most reliable bait that fetched him an instant prey amongst us.

“Who all have brought their own MS Book?”

The topper lifted his hand midway through the question and like an epidemic spread all of us held our hands up screaming, “Yes Sir!”.

The next moment he asked me to read loudly a paragraph from my book. I looked below and found a shloka in Sanskrit which meant –When you are wounded, The blows fall heavily.

I slyly picked my bench-sharing friend’s book and read a paragraph out of blue.
There was utter silence in the class like the one before a storm. I knew I was reading a wrong paragraph but refused to stop in between.

The Principal interjected my monologue in between, asked my name and then signalled me and my bench-sharing friend to stand in front of the class.

The next moment we were facing the crowd of spectators eager for  fireworks to begin anytime soon. The principal asked us to open Chapter 3 and read it loudly to whole class. My chapter 3 was in Sanskrit but my friend jumped the bandwagon and read the topic loudly -HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. As he rapidly read the script, I defended sudden blows and slaps from my Principal as he repeatedly asked “What is the Topic you rascal !!?”.Everytime I meekly replied “Honesty is the Best Policy sir”. The blows grew heavier as if the fact that honesty and its best policy status were being nailed down into my head. Fifteen minutes later I emerged with a swollen face and an idea that honesty-whatever damn thingy it is-is the best policy.

To me the definition of honesty remained as confusing as Java programming to a civil engineer who finally settles on his mettle for testing and leave programming at peace with itself. Several years later as I entered the professional world I met  people who while demystifying honesty unshackled it from its earlier burden of righteousness, truthfulness,trustfulness and other illness. This was a lot different from what I read in MS book several years ago. Honesty had suffered a character assasination by now. I realised that Honesty can be defined in various ways as per the subjective needs of a person defining it. In scientific equation honesty is a variable factor ‘H’ directly or indirectly proportional to the atmospheric conditions at its defining moment. Theoretically no one is honest and practically everyone is. One thing common though was that no one doubted H’s ‘best policy’ status as long as it satisfied their life’s equation.

Everything was normal till one day a colleague introduced me to a person as “Dead Honest Person”. I was taken aback by the honour bestowed on him. I was inquisitive for how can one be dead and honest at the same time. He was alive and he was allegedly honest, at least under certain atmospheric conditions. Being honest and then dead is accepted but not being dead and then honest. So shouldn’t the correct attribution to it be Honest Dead person? But then my Principal never introduced us to anything called ‘Dead Honesty’. So was Dead Honesty a forlorn elder brother of Honesty which died during its long struggle to keep its head high. Or is it only Honesty which is invariably the best policy. And if it is so why another variable ‘DH’ in this subjectively defined world.

Whatever it is, I am no Kejri-Man to accord ‘H’ and ‘DH’ status to any. I hardly know anything about honesty. Neither this post intends to stuff your mouth with a dose of honesty as the image suggests above. All it intends is to tell you that it was summer of 99 when my Principal col. B.R Sharma knew me by name, for reasons already explained above.

Thankyou for reading

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