William Shakespeare would have probably said, ‘To trust or not to trust’, had he lived in our times. Duping and conning has become such a common occurrence in today’s cut throat life.
The following incident occurred quite some time ago, but it has remained indelible in my mind since.
I was strolling in the garden, deeply engrossed in my thoughts, when I saw a man in grey trousers and a green shirt standing in front of me. He appeared to me to be an educated man. He asked me for some money, stating that he was not a beggar but that dire circumstances had forced him to ask for financial assistance even from strangers.He then launched into a monologue about how he needed money to go to the hospital. As I listened to his sympathetic tale, I was overwhelmed with pity and I gave him some money. Later in the evening, I saw him at a rather expensive restaurant, entertaining his girl friend. To say that I was shocked would be putting it mildly.
I had been swindled by an ingenious man who had not only chalked out an infallible plan but carried it out with perfection ,clearly showing that he was no novice. I was both pained and shocked. Not just at my financial loss that I had incurred, but at the seeping loss of trust in fellow human beings. Every time I happen to witness a similar event, I cannot but think of the live ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ that I had the misfortune to encounter.
This snippet is my ‘first-article’ to be published when it appeared sometime in 1992 as a ‘Super Duper’ column in the ‘Young Express’ supplement of ‘The Indian Express’ in Pune. I was about 15 years old and studying in school. I now regard it as a ‘piffling piece’ but it remains ‘special’ to me as it was the ‘first baby step’ that I took in the world of writing.
And it set the pattern of my initial writings – quote an author, use the biggest words that I knew even if they were not the most apt ones, and to summarize the story at the end.
My English teacher – Ms. Usha Iyer at Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command Pune – was wise enough to suggest that I ought to trust my ‘competence to write’ and the reader’s ‘intelligence to read’ and avoid ‘summing-up-the-theme’ at the end. She put it rather nicely, “It just reveals that the writer is not sure of having communicated the message and meaning of his piece.”