Monday, December 29, 2008

A rare case of honesty

by KParthasarathi 29 Dec 2008
I was standing at the roadside waiting for a three-wheeler to take me to Adyar. Most autos whizzed past with passengers in them as it was morning time, peak hour. After about fifteen minutes, an empty auto did stop to take me at an unreasonably exorbitant amount and I refused. I was willing to pay about twenty rupees more than the usual fare. The greedy driver, mouthing some unpalatable remarks, sped away looking for other quarries. I met the same experience with two more autos and became mentally prepared to pay whatever would be demanded by the next man as I was in a hurry to keep an appointment. It was then a spotlessly clean auto stopped by my side. The driver, in his late thirties, politely asked me to get in. He never enquired where I was going. I hesitated and asked him how much he expected for taking me to Adyar. He replied that I could pay him as per the meter. Knowing well that the meters in most autos were tampered to show double, or even more than, the normal rate, I asked him to quote a fixed amount. He replied, “Amma, my meter is fool proof and genuine. Since you do not trust me, you can pay me eighty rupees or the amount indicated in the meter, whichever is lesser.” Eighty rupees was much lesser than the amounts asked for by others. I jumped into the auto happily.

As he was driving along, I asked him, “You seem different from your class of people. What is your name and which stand do you belong to?”

He replied “Amma, I am Chandran. Although I belong to the stand close to where you boarded, I do not wait in the stand, but a little away. The other drivers do not like me. I stay away.”

“I understand. Does this rickshaw belong to you? If you say your meter is not tampered and is willing to carry the passengers at metered rates, why do you do it? It is strange, particularly when I see almost everyone wants 50% more than the authorised rates. Some are even worse. They are also rude if you refuse. Don’t you have a family?” I asked.

“Yes, I have a family of my wife, two young children and an aged mother. I do not ask for more as I consider it begging. I am a worker with self-respect and not a beggar. I do not want doles. I take what is due to me happily. This auto is a rented one. I tailor my household expenses to my income. If need be, I will work for longer hours but I will not deceive others. I have a very good and understanding wife. I may not be very comfortable, but I am a contented man.” Chandran said.

Meanwhile the auto had come to my destination. I looked at the meter hoping to see an amount much higher than Rs. 80 agreed upon. It showed Rs. 67.When I gave him Rs. 80 and started to move, he said, “Just one moment, Madam. You have not taken the balance.” He offered Rs.13 which I refused telling him that I am pleased to give him the extra amount.

He insisted saying, “No, I will not take more than what was agreed upon. Metered rate or Rs.80, whichever is less. I told you I am neither a beggar nor live on doles. Please accept the balance.”

It was a pleasant experience to find a man with such lofty principles. I remembered the discussion I had with my superiors in the bank I worked in as to why I should supersede others for my promotion and why I would not wait for my turn. I knew how colleagues take money for things they should normally do. How the entire country was corrupt with nothing moving without greasing somebody’s palms. I could not believe that such an honest person could live in our midst.

I had given him my address asking him to meet me the coming Sunday. In the meanwhile, I made discreet enquiries at the auto stand that only corroborated what I heard from Chandran.They mocked at him and said, “He is a mental case and thinks himself as another Dharmaputra and spoils our business. We have driven him away from the stand. He is leading a dog’s life in want and driving rented auto for the last twelve years. Most of us have two autos of our own. He is a useless chap. Why do you want to know about him, Amma? Did he cheat you?”

When he came the next Sunday, I asked him how much of margin money he could afford to pay for a loan for an auto. When he mentioned the amount, I assured him that I would give the balance as an advance and arrange a loan for him from my bank where I worked. He fell at my feet crying “Amma, you are like Goddess Mahalakshmi to me. I am indebted to you for life. I would repay the advance to you and promise upon the Goddess’ name that I will continue to be honest till my end.”

"Honesty makes for a life of integrity because the inner and outer selves are a mirror image. Slander cannot destroy an honest man-when the flood recedes the rock is there"


  1. A beautiful story, very motivating to read. In life, sooner or later, goodness and honesty are usually rewarded. However, the best reward is from oneself: the priceless feeling of having done the right thing by one's conscience. Thank you KP, for this story. My best wishes to you.

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  3. A touching story sir, a different one from those you often post with no tragic twists and all, nicely said as long chandran, god bless u

    new year greetings sir.

  4. Thanks Ayesha and Shravan for liking the story

  5. A very touching story and nice to see principles and integrity reigning even in a corrupt world like today!!!

  6. Nice story and lovely template.
    have a nice day.:)

  7. It is really a very touching story. Honesty has become rare in this world. Hats off to the Auto driver!!!

    Thanx to you , My day started with a smile after reading this ...honestly:)


  8. Thanks Sneha and Anu for your comments

  9. Loved this story; no twists, no unhappiness, just plain goodness !

  10. Thank you Vasudha for visiting my blog and reading the story.I am glad you liked it

  11. liked this story,cos its really hard to find honest people nowadays,n more so people who clain only what is actually due to them.
    And finally seeing him get the reward for honesty,made me go like 'whoa'...very nice article..:)

  12. Thanks again, Lakshmi.Pl vist my blog regularly.

  13. It is hard to find honest people today, but even harder to find people who rewards others for their honesty :) Nice post :)