Thursday, August 7, 2014

Honesty is the Best Policy (A Short Story)

(Few Days Ago, I had attended the marriage of a childhood friend. There I met all my old pals and it reminded me of some of the little 'adventures' of those golden days of our lives. Here is a fictionalized account of one of such incidents of my childhood, which was published in a children magazine few months ago)



“Get in.” 

 “Make it quick before someone comes around.”

“Be Careful.” 

“Yes, yes. I am getting in. Don’t shout. “

It was 3 pm in the afternoon and the Gang of Four, as they were called in their neighbourhood, was at the premises of the Tea Garden Staff Club. The Gang of Four comprised of Rahul, Bhaskar, Arun and Deva. All of them were studying in class VIII and had grown up together since childhood. At the moment they were busy putting Deva inside the club through a broken window pane at the backside of the club. Once inside, Deva would then open the window and the other three would get in. This has been their routine for the last 10 days. And the reason for this adventure was to play carom board inside the club.

The Gang of Four were having their summer holidays and while they played cricket for the first few days, it has been raining for the last two weeks, thus spoiling their chance of playing outside in the field. So they have been forced to play indoors and what can be better than carom board to play. But the problem was that neither had a carom board at their home. However there was a carom board at the club but the club opened only at the evenings after the garden staff came back from work and they were not allowed outside their house at that time. So they were unable to play in the club also.

 And then one day Arun found a solution to this problem. He discovered the broken window pane at the club and since that day they used to go there at 3 pm and Deva, being the thinnest among the four, would get inside the club through the opening and make way for the others to enter. They would then play for two hours till 5 pm and then three of them would get out through the window. Deva would close the window from the inside and then come out through the broken window pane. 

Today also they gathered around the board and started playing. They kept discussing various topics during the play. Suddenly with a loud noise the stand holding the board crashed down. The black and white carom board coins flew away in all directions and to the horror of the four players, the board developed a crack at its middle portion. For a few moments there was a pin drop silence. Neither of the four moved. They only kept staring at the board. They were expecting people to keep running to the club on hearing the noise. But nothing such happened. Now they realised that the noise had not been that much as they had thought and none apart from them had heard the noise.

Finally Bhaskar spoke up “What to do now? The Board is broken and we are doomed.”  Rahul said, “We have not done anything. The stand broke down on its own. It was already old and worn down. It would have anyway broken down some other day. We are not at fault.” Bhaskar said again, “But it broke while we were playing here, that too without the knowledge of others. We were already doing a wrong thing by entering the club this way and then on top of that this thing happened. So, we are the guilty ones.” 

Deva was silent during all this time. His father was the secretary of the club and he was thinking if his father came to know about this, he would be getting a sound thrashing. Rahul said again, “Let us get out of here and go back to our homes. We will behave as nothing has happened and nobody will know what happened here. As nobody knows that we come here, we will also not be blamed.” 

Arun spoke up now, “It will be wrong on our part to do such a thing. This has happened in our presence and we will have to sort it out ourselves.” Deva was quite nervous. He said, “What can we do? We can’t fix this board and stand ourselves. These are broken.” Bhaskar said, “Arun, I agree what you said but how can we fix this.” Rahul once again repeated his plan to escape. 

Arun said, “Let’s do one thing, we all go to Deva’s house and tell his father everything. He needs to know about this incident as he is the secretary of this club and he is responsible for whatever happens here. What do you all say to that?” The other three thought for a moment. Finally, Rahul and Bhaskar agreed. Deva was a little reluctant but after a little persuasion he agreed.  He however said that he will not do the talking and that the other three have to explain everything. They all agreed. They picked up the fallen carom board coins, placed the broken stand and the board against the wall and came out of the club through their usual way.

They then went to Deva’s house. Deva’s father had just got back from office. They went up to him. Arun first spoke, “Uncle, we would like to speak with you. “ He then told him everything. Deva’s father listened patiently and then said, “You people should have asked me once before entering the club that way. I would have arranged for you to play at the club during the afternoons. Anyway whatever has happened has happened. I will take care of that thing and get the carom board repaired. However, I am happy that instead of keeping silent on the issue, you people have come forward with the truth. I am impressed by the honesty of you boys.” 

With these words a crushing weight seemed to have got down from their chest. They felt relieved. They also decided that from now onwards that will not do such things without the knowledge of their parents. Arun said, “We did the right thing by being honest about everything. We faced the problem instead of running away from it. This is the attitude that we must always keep with us.” All of them nodded their head in agreement. And even the Sun was pleased with them, as from the next day there was bright sunshine and they were able to resume their Cricket matches again.