Monday, November 17, 2008

Honesty pays

“You are not a worldly wise man. It is my misfortune that I am married to you. When all the drivers like you bring 400 or 500 rupees extra daily, you are putting on a foolish image of a good man and making me and the children suffer as a consequence. While the other women buy clothes, mixie, TV, mobile etc,I keep borrowing small amounts from them frequently. Why can’t you be like others adjusting the meter and bribing the policemen?” wailed Ravi’s wife loudly.
Ravi, an auto rickshaw driver, calmly replied “ I cannot be dishonest even if it means suffering for us. There is no point in your crying and making scenes. Be content with what you have. God would surely reward honesty.”
“It is easy for you to preach. I have to take our son to the doctor. His fever has not come down for the last three days. He is not sipping even a spoon of tea. Where is the money? Nobody is willing to lend. Give me five hundred rupees and then keep preaching your lessons to others” she replied angrily.
Ravi slammed the door and left without taking his breakfast. He knew that his wife was frustrated due to want but he had no mind to earn money by devious ways. He can work harder but not demand more than the prescribed rates. Ravi was sitting in his auto brooding over his poor earnings and was waiting for his next fare. He reluctantly decided if God doesn’t show him the way,he would also turn like his fellow drivers. It was extremely hot and sultry even around 11 am in the morning. He had parked the vehicle a little away from the auto stand under the shade of a tree on the side of the busy road. It was a commercial area with several shops and there was the milling crowd on the road. Not a blade of grass moved and the leaves were all still. Ravi was not an avaricious type unlike other members of his ilk. He generally accepted the fare as shown in the untampered meter and gratefully acknowledged any extra given by the passengers on their own volition. As this was not to the liking of the other drivers, he generally kept away from them.
“Can you take me to Adyar” asked a tall man in his thirties. Ravi looked at the neatly dressed man and noticed that he was glancing behind his shoulders frequently as if someone was following him. Even before he said he was willing to take him, the man jumped into the auto and sat in the corner closely huddled to the canvas cover. When Ravi tried to start the auto, the passenger said “Not immediately now. Please wait. I will tell you when to start.” When Ravi asked him whether he was expecting anyone else to accompany him, he denied even while he was looking behind thro the rear window of the three- wheeler.
Ravi could not help but be puzzled by the man who was obviously tense , restless and kept fidgeting with his watch as if he was expecting some threat to him. He did not put out his head outside the auto and kept watching thro the narrow opening at the rear of the vehicle. When Ravi asked him after ten minutes whether he can start the vehicle, the man pleaded with him to wait a little longer promising him extra for the waiting. He said “I am waiting for someone and at the same time avoiding someone else. I am compelled to seek refuge in the cover of your vehicle till the person comes”
Ravi left the man in the auto telling him that he would buy a cigarette from a shop nearby. He was making small talk with the friendly shopkeeper about the passenger waiting in the auto. When he returned after a few minutes, he was shocked to find the man was not in the vehicle. When he looked in, he found a leather bag and a hundred rupee note on the seat. When he opened the bag he found it stuffed with lot of money. He was confused and baffled at the discovery. He turned round with the bag in hand looking for the man who had mysteriously vanished. He realized that he should not have left the man alone in the vehicle especially when he found him nervous and edgy.
It was then he heard a distraught man running towards this side of the road with a constable. There were other idle passers- by also coming along with them. He saw the constable stopping now and then and asking the people some questions. When he approached the shop keeper, Ravi saw him pointing out to his vehicle and telling him something. When the policeman came running followed by the distressed man, Ravi knew the game and offered the bag to the constable.. The man who had vanished was a chain snatcher and pick pocket who used his vehicle as a hiding place till such time the commotion subsided. The man who was with the policeman shouted in glee ”Sir, this is my bag snatched by the thief without my knowledge by cutting the strap.” When Ravi’s explanation of the incident corroborated with the version of the shopkeeper the constable handed over the bag to the owner. On verifying the contents to be intact, he instantly offered Ravi Rs 1000 and asked him to meet him at his residence the next day. He said ”I have hundred employees working for me and I have found very few honest men of your type. I have a great use for men like you. You need not drive three-wheeler anymore but can earn much more being in my employment in the stores department.”
God’s ways may appear inscrutable but there is a method in them.

1 comment:

  1. Good one, as usual, from the author. Along with the theme, I greatly like the concluding sentence: "God’s ways may appear inscrutable but there is a method in them." Best wishes.