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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Of some questions about a quality called Honesty


My father, a judge, was a man of habits. He smoked three cigarettes a day, ate cornflakes with milk for breakfast and never failed to regale his family of five daughters and one wife with tales of his honesty. “…and I told him if I ever saw his face in my chamber again I would get him arrested for attempting to bribe an honest officer”. The temptation he had so nobly resisted in this particular case was a sum of 50k, a princely sum some thirty five years back. The stories were  invariably told over dinner and  left  such an indelible impression on my young mind that till date the combination of piping hot paranthas and matar paneer, father's favorite vegetable, invariably seduces  me into letting loose a diatribe on the need for honesty in public and private life......  

That was till one day my teenage son interrupted me to say, ever so seriously, that may be if nana had been slightly less honest nani may not have had to lead the tough life she led .Shocked, I opened my mouth to ask if all my years of trying to inculcate moral values in him had come to nought when the look of distress in his eyes stopped me in my tracks. Here was a boy who had adored his grandmother and felt rotten every time he saw her worrying about finances. He would have rather seen her  carefree and nana dishonest than the other way round. For him  honesty was as over rated as a multi starrer big budget bollywood movie. Simply put it was all hype and no substance.

'But...' I all but spluttered, ' it doesnt mean that one just wishes away an important value like honesty. It...'.
The son looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Mum, could you please answer two simple questions:
a. What is honesty? b. Is there anyone in public life who is honest today?'

Readers- I need to get back to him regarding these two questions. All answers will be welcome.


  1. Well, all I can say is that these are million dollar questions from an impressionable mind which need to be handled with sensitivity... I would think it's imperative to tell him how values cannot be given up just because one is seeing some days of hardship... may be with some examples...

    1. Archana, not only appreciate the reply but am also relieved reading your comments.
      Thank you.

  2. Probably you could tell him that if each person thinks he/she can live better by being a little dishonest, the effect would multiply and result in acceptance of dishonesty as a normal practice in society. When people do not mind benefiting at the cost of others, it results in a corrupt society, which is not what his grandfather would have envisioned for his future generations.