This anecdote comes again from B:
1967 March/April. I was appearing for my Intermediate examination (13th year) at a college in south Mumbai. Those days it was 11 years in school, 2 years of pre-degree in college and another 2 years in a bachelor’s degree course.
It was the day of Hindi exam. As always I did my namaskars to Lord Ganesha (the deity thought to remove all obstacles) and to my mother before leaving the house. A practice widely followed in my generation.
Most of candidates taking the examination were already employed in paying job,now wanting to earn a university degree to further their career prospects. In preparation for the same they would attend coaching classes in the morning while attending to their jobs during the day.
So here I was in the examination hall staring blankly at the question paper in Hindi. Most of us – I and others in the hall – were migrants from south, poor in Hindi, disinterested as well beyond the need of the situation. There was no choice before us as Hindi was mandated and we had to pass.
The supervisor in the hall knew the predicament. He closed his eyes to the candidates freely copying from whatever sources including text-books. And I was staring at the question paper like I was decoding script from the Indus Valley tablets. Before long the roving eyes of the supervisor settled on a-completely-unengaged me. He moved to station himself near my desk and sent out subtle signals for me to “do what you want”,
It was not difficult at all for me to decide – I wrote what I could and came away. To me, a standing injunction against less-than-honest means from my mother, a-not-so-preachy financially weak and uneducated single parent, was simply non-negotiable come what may.
When the results were declared I was surprised to note from newspapers that I had passed!
The mark-sheet subsequently issued showed I had scored a bountiful 6 out of 75 marks against a minimum passing requirement of 15. So the newspapers were wrong.It had to be. Though none of it was unexpected I was still devastated.
In sheer disgust I gazed at the mark-sheet hoping for some miracle. And there it was!
There was a special note at the bottom of the nothing-to-speak-of mark-sheet: “Failure in Hindi condoned under section….” Reason: I had passed / scored well on all other papers. The powers that be were taking a kinder view of the matter in their efforts to promote Hindi (as national language).
While we all conduct our lives adopting a certain code of ethics learnt either from elders in the family or in school, we differ in our intensity of compliance.
Oftentimes we cite exigencies:
‘We have to move with time’,
‘We have to be flexible and realistic’,
’Just this once’
…to permit ourselves infractions that are minor to begin with, insidiously building up into major breaches over time. Every shred starts with a tear.
In the above anecdote B steadfastly holds onto his tenet of not resorting to less-than-honest means to achieve an end as simply inviolable and non-negotiable even in the face of adverse fallout’s. From there it was no longer a difficult decision for him to make.
A courage we wish we had more of.
In an earlier post (see https://tskraghu.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/a-wrong-was-righted-and-how/) B was introduced as my neighbor for years. And also the father of the highly successful and talented Vidya Balan of Bollywood.
Source: openclipart (amroud999)