Saturday, 17 August 2013

0.5 v/s Honesty

72.5+40= a whopping 112.5 out of a possible 120 in the school final exam in English! 

I was jubilant on getting the English first paper answer script!  I had already scored 40 in the second paper, so I now knew the combined total! Only one other student had obtained a combined 112.5 in the subject. The rest were far behind! Intuition told me that out of  800-odd students in Class VIII, the two of us had the highest marks, as we were in supposedly the 'best' section of the school! Highest marks in a subject would guarantee an automatic pass to the prestigious Annual Prize Distribution ceremony of our reputed Kolkata institution, one of the very best in Eastern India, which had students fighting tooth and nail to compete for the few academic excellence prizes that were up for grabs... and here was I, already sitting pretty with a great score. ... and I could already envision myself acknowledging the cheers of the crowd, as I received the award for being joint top scorer in English! 

      I opened the answer script once more, before it was time for returning it to the teacher. Around me was a flurry of activity, with my classmates adding up their marks, but their scores were far behind me, so I felt pleased. As I idly looked at my picturesque pages, the Satan suddenly came into being , and whispered his idea , "Get rid of the 'Joint' highest scorer tag, son ... Go on. ..count your score again! You might find out a mistake in the marks addition & that'll take you ahead of the other girl with 112.5! Count it Titas! COUNT!" ....and a wicked smile curled across my lips, while greed shrouded my brain, lured by the prospect of becoming the sole sovereign of English! I started going through the pages once more, but this time, with an intent, counting the small figures at the margin of the page, the eyes roving across every red marking,  for a small mistake that the teacher had made, in her haste to finish a humongous load of answer scripts. 

    As the last answer went by, i felt something was amiss..... Where did the precious 0.5 marks go? "Oh! Might just be a careless mistake on my part", I muttered to myself,thinking, the frivolous brain might have missed out a tiny marking in the excitement of the counting. Once again, I went through the routine of poring over the pages. ... and then again. .... and again. ...!

        The numbing realisation took a while to sink in. Yes, the teacher had indeed made a mistake in adding up the marks, but contrary to what the Satan had speculated, she had awarded me 0.5 marks extra! Even after rechecking the tally innumerable number of times, the 72 didn't quite get elevated to 72.5!

      "Just forget it, Boy! This happens", urged the Satan, yet again appearing out of nowhere to pass on his vile remarks, " Just keep mum & submit your copy. Remember, you want to attend that Prize Distribution ceremony! " I nodded to myself, and got up, to return the answer script! I was determined to make it to the podium. Ambitious parents and their nerdy children in our school had taken competition to suffocating standards,  and there was no way I could fool myself into letting go of a gilded opportunity.

    "Auntie! I have something to say! ", and the teacher looked up at me with the look of a seasoned pro, who had encountered numerous instances of fraud by cheat students over the years!  "And what is your problem, Titas? " , she was enquiring, while her prying eyes tried to scour my brain, whether I had done any mischief and come to her with a demand of increasing my marks, that she had been pestered with so many times that day! "Auntie, I feel there has been a mistake. ... you've awarded me 0.5 marks extra, which I cannot add up! "

     The teacher was stunned. My classmates, many of whom were standing nearby,trying to bargain with the teacher to get a few extra marks, were shocked too! I myself, who was , torn by internal strife,  till then, by playing host to a furious wrestling match that raged in my brain between my conscience & the Satan, suddenly felt light! The chance for the prize had gone abegging for a year, but I didn't feel the regret. I could almost see the smiling faces of my Mom & Dad , who I knew, would feel proud that their lessons of Honesty, had indeed rubbed off on their child! 

                         My teacher was delighted at my admission, and many of my classmates came up to laud me on my action! The opportunity was gone, but my priority in upholding my parents' lessons of virtue, had got enough honesty instilled in me , which gave me the self satisfaction, helping me tide over the little pangs of sorrow that I might have had ,on missing out on the coveted prize. 

** I am sharing my "Do Right Stories at BlogAdda" in association with "Do Right" Tata Capital.

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