Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lesson in Honesty

One rainy evening in Manipal, about half past seven, a friend and I decided to go out for dinner to a restaurant in Udupi, four kilometers away. We were then, staying in a hostel. Having going through a testing time in life compounded by the lack of allure of hostel food, demanded that little outing. We rushed to the parking lot, almost scampering in the drizzle, and I started the car. I reversed, completely miscalculating the presence of a car on my right. A novice driver then, the front right of my car scratched the left behind of the other.
The damage was done, my heart was pounding, but having realised quickly that there was no way the situation could be reversed, we didn’t stop; we went for dinner. On the way, I contemplated what needs to be done about the situation. A plethora of thoughts clouded my mind. It was a rainy evening, not many people noticed what happened, and could I just get away with it? Doesn’t such minor dents and scratches happen all the time in big cities? I didn’t even know whose vehicle it was, the hostel didn’t have allotted parking spaces and maybe when we would be back the other vehicle would be gone. The warm food at Udupi, though succor for the palate, could not provide solace to the mind.
We returned after a couple of hours to find the other car right there where it was when we left. No one was around. The hostel on a rainy night bore a deserted look. My penchant for car numbers helped me identify the owner. A person whom I knew through an acquaintance, who my friend I concluded appeared snob, and thus would certainly be difficult to deal with. We assessed the damage to his car, not grave but certainly a black mark on his otherwise clean and perfect car. Without mentioning it we perhaps concluded that we do not pursue the matter further. We went back to our respective rooms.
Then the conscience stirred. I did not know in which room the guy stayed. I went through profile of our common friend to identify his name, then called the hostel office to find his room. With apprehension about how it would pan out, my friend and I visited his room. I confessed, he was shocked. He came down with us to assess the damage and was visually upset. He dismissed me with informing that I have to pay him the damage repair costs, how much ever it be.
To add to miseries of that time was this another unnecessary, avoidable incident. The next few days were spent in anticipation. I tried contacting various people, garages to find out how much it would actually cost and could I help him in getting the work done. After a week he came with a staggering sum of money that I needed to pay. I thought I did not have an option and asked him if I could pay it in installments. Reluctantly, he agreed. I paid the first installment.
Then possibly he had the change in heart.  He hadn’t, for whatever reasons, factored in insurance costs, which now brought the cost down. Amidst the turmoil came his text message. It read, “I really appreciate how you took the trouble of finding me and informing, when you could have very easily got away with; you need not pay anything further, my insurance took care of it”.
The values, the beliefs, the emotions, the relations, the feelings, the people around, all make much more sense when you are through an emotional turmoil. A life threatening accident in family had affected like no other. Life is perhaps a good teacher but teaches lessons very harshly. Through that turmoil this lesson in honesty proved that however cliché it may sound, however bad you may think people are, however rotten the world you may think has become, there is still somewhere deep within us humans that fire burning of truthfulness and honesty.



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