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Honesty Dishonesty Puzzle…#UnforgettableEvent

Like every year, this year also produced reports of cheating in Matriculation examinations and futile official efforts to root out such acts. While watching such a report that unveiled the cheating mechanism in Sindh in general and Karachi in particular; I recalled a similar event which very well explains the complex social behavior of our society, where Nazarya-i-Zaroorat often supersedes divine principles; a society which is still struggling to draw a firm line between honesty and dishonesty.

A couple of years back, having just started my career; I was working in the capacity of Trainee Engineer at Lyari Expressway project–Karachi. Me and a very good friend of mine were tasked to work at two different sites on the same project. We used to meet from time to time with respect to our associated work and shared our experiences frequently.

On one such day, perhaps a Friday; we were having lunch together along-with our Senior Manager at the site office. Suddenly, one traffic police man asked permission to enter the room. He introduced himself as a man performing his duties at the nearby junction and the subsequent information he shared with us was shocking and mind-boggling. He stated that he was an honest man and had earned Rizq-e-Halal for whole life; never ever accepted any bribe. “But today I am helpless due to a reason,” he said. We all were listening intently to what he was saying. “Actually tomorrow is my son’s Matriculation Physics exam and the cheating Mafia is asking Rs.2000 in order to help him,” he said. “Aik payee bhee kam karne ke liay tayyar nahee hain who log.I have paid them Rs.1000 in advance and now I have to pay them the remaining amount by tomorrow morning or else they will not facilitate my son during his exam.”

We were listening to him speechless. He went on. “I could have easily fetched the said amount by issuing Chalans on the road but I am not one of those dishonest fellows who indulge in such dirty things; I will pay you this amount in a few days I promise. I am giving this valuable watch as a guarantee,” he said and flipped his wrist watch immediately. “Please help me or else my son’s future will be destroyed”. He was about to cry.

We were baffled at his story and were clueless on how to react to this unusual situation. Our senior manager was a really seasoned, intelligent and sharp person, but even he was also swept away by the dismal account that had just been narrated. After asking a few questions, he took out his wallet and handed Rs.500 to the police constable saying, “I only have this amount to give you and you manage the remaining Rs.500 somehow”. He also returned the wrist watch back to the constable. After saying many thanks, the poor constable went out with a stern face as he still had to arrange Rs.500 before the next morning. After all this, we all were pretty sure in light of our experiences that it was a sheer true and genuine case. “Never give the full demanded money to anyone, learn this sooner OR otherwise people may exploit your kind attitude,” the manager told us and we noted down this golden lesson somewhere down in our consciousness.

After this incident, my mind got to thinking.. Many elders teach their children that “Beta kabhee ghalat kaam na kiya karo and Buray  kaam ka bura anjaam milta hai”. What face will such fathers show their children after facilitating them in cheating? This surely is an injustice to hardworking honest students. Is this not hypocrisy, will this not lead their children to do the same when they become fathers? At one point he had no compromise on Rizq-e-Halal and at the next opportunity, arranging to facilitate his son through cheating was a small thing for him.

This one event is a classic example that is reflective of our confused and double faced society in which we claim to stand proud and uncompromised on certain principles but are ready to give leverage to other things as per our convenience. Observing prayers 5 times a day as a true believer but indulging in dishonest practices as there was no other way out. We never practice what we preach, do we?

Only Allah is aware as to what became of that traffic constable and his son, but that experience has left a negative impression on me. Embroiled daily in a fight between honesty and dishonesty, the man keeps on knocking the doors of my senses saying “Sahib jee, I have never fed Haram to my children BUT Aaj mein apke samne  majboor khara hoon”. 

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