My experiences with truth


09 Aug

It is said that one of the most sublime things in the world is plain truth. Every religious scripture exhort the followers to speak the truth, if they believe in God. Parents and teachers always preach the doctrine of ‘truth’. I was enamoured with the concept of truth, since my childhood and decided to practice it to the best of my ability. However, I soon discovered that in the real world, ‘truth’ is not always the best option

My first experience with truth began on a cold winter morning, when I was late in reaching my school. I was required to take a slip from the headmaster, for being permitted to enter my classroom. I was asked why I was late. I answered truthfully that I got up late from bed, because it was cold. The headmaster wrote on the slip, “Not excused”. I showed the slip to the class teacher and received the punishment to remain after school-hours and write one hundred times, “I shall get up early from bed”. My classmate gave me a friendly advice on what excuse I should give in future for avoiding punishment.

After a few days I was again late, but this time I decided to let ‘truth’ take a back seat. I made a sullen face and told the headmaster, “Sir, my bicycle was punctured on the way. I had to walk to school pushing the bicycle, as there were no repair shops available.” This time the headmaster was sympathetic and wrote, “Excused”, on the slip. I escaped the punishment.

On another occasion, I completely forgot about the assignment, which I was to submit for correction on that day. It was given to us one week earlier, by our class teacher. I decided to follow the scriptures and told the truth. I was asked to kneel down in front of the whole class, as punishment. My classmate had also forgotten about the assignment, but he told the class teacher, in a voice choked with emotions, that he had to perform all the household chores during the week, as his mother was bed-ridden with high fever. He could not get any time to do the homework. The teacher not only consoled him, but also appreciated his efforts in helping his ailing mother!

After completing my post graduation I found a job for myself. A month later, I got the tragic news about the sudden demise of my father, due to a massive heart-attack. He was very happy when I informed him about my job and had expressed a keen desire to visit me. I had taken a spacious house, so that he could come and stay with me. I felt very depressed and wanted to take a few days off after the religious rites were over, so that I could meditate. I requested my boss for a week’s leave, but he rejected it disdainfully on the pretext that a lot of work was pending and my presence in office was absolutely necessary. I had no option but to try for medical leave, as psychologically, I was not in a frame of mind to work.

I approached a doctor with the story that I am having severe stomach-ache and loose motion. He prescribed some medicines and wrote a certificate, “Suffering from acute diarrhea. Advised rest and medication for one week.” Armed with this certificate, I once again requested my boss for leave. This time he showed no hesitation in granting me permission and I left for a resort to drown my grief and rejuvenate myself.

I had a five-year old two-wheeler which I wanted to sell. I calculated its depreciated value and advertised it in the local newspaper. The vehicle was in excellent condition. I imagined that it would be easy to sell it in that price. I was shocked in disbelief when several customers expressed their apprehensions about its condition and felt the price I put for it, was too high. I posed this problem to my friend.

He said, “ People are generally distrustful of others. So when you fixed a low price for the vehicle, they jumped to the conclusion that it must be defective and that is why you want to dispose it off.”

The next day he brought a few customers and quoted a much higher price, than what I had fixed. He told them, “This is an excellent vehicle and my friend has no desire of selling it. He was offered a higher price, but he refused to part with it. He wants to buy an apartment and is short of funds. I suggested that he sell his vehicle and he has reluctantly agreed. If he changes his mind you’ll miss a bargain!”

One of the customers appeared to have swallowed his story and wanted the price to be lowered a bit. My friend expressed annoyance and said, “OK, for you I am quoting a little less, as a special case, but no further haggling. This is final. Take it or leave it.”

These words had a miraculous effect on the customer and he readily agreed to buy it at the quoted price, which was much higher than what I had initially fixed. My truthful assessment of the price of the vehicle was no match to the quoted price offered by my friend, based on falsehood. In the end, I benefited and that is all that matters!

As I spend the evening of my life ruminating about the numerous experiences with truth, I am inclined to believe the saying, “A truth-teller finds the door closed against him.” All around me I see ‘falsehood’ thrive on the podium of success, while the edifice of ‘truth’ is crumbling down. Is there any chance for the survival of ‘truth’ in today’s environment?

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