This was right in the beginning of April. I was strolling through an empty road. With no souls seemingly in sight, I hit upon an old bookstore. A book lover that I am, I couldn’t resist but barge into it. Cruising through the Old books section, tripping on that addictive decaying ‘aromatic smell’, I stumbled upon a book titled “collective short stories by Tagore” (Rabindranath).
As I flipped through the pages, my eyes caught upon a short story titled “A Good Man”. A story which I have read so many times, but a concept that I barely understood then. This time around I read it in an entirely different light.
So, who exactly is “a good man”?
Well, a good man is one who sacrifices his rights for others. He does so not because he wants to, but because he lacks courage. After all, a good man is also a son of a gentleman.
You don’t agree with it, let me give you an example:
Some years ago, I was sitting in a class when a dear friend of mine barged in and sat across my table. I knew that he was here to disturb me, but since I am a good man I let it be.
“What are you doing?” he asked. Even though he knew that I was studying.
“Nothing much, just wasting my time!” I replied.
“You shouldn’t read so much, it won’t help you in real life.” “Just come out and have a ‘sutta’.” Even though he knew I didn’t smoke, he kept on persisting. I sensed that he needed something, but a good man that I am, once again, I let it be.
I noticed my ink pen slowly shifting places, and ever slightly moving towards him. I knew it was my pen, I knew he was taking it, and I saw it disappearing in his shirt. But I didn’t say anything. A good man that I am.
“You should come with us, you should start having a sutta, it will help you a lot. It is life.” He blurted again. I knew that he wouldn’t leave me alone unless I went with him, but I couldn’t decline. It would have damaged his ego since he too was a good man.
So I replied: “Let’s ask Viktor from other section. He can also accompany us.”
He readily accepted the offer and stood up to leave for the other section. It was then that I blurted, “but I have a class right now and a test to give. Why don’t you join him, I can join you guys right after.”
Nothing else on to offer, he had to leave the class. So he went, taking away my favourite pen with him. Hurrying away, so that I didn’t realize that my pen was missing. Unaware of the fact that I knew it was right there in his pocket.
Now, you must be wondering why I didn’t stop him from taking away (stealing) my pen. Well, I could, but I did not. Although I am a good man but he too was a son of a gentleman, and which son of a gentleman would accept the fact that he had stolen a pen?
Let’s take another example. A more common one:
It was many years ago. I lost my favorite copy of Isaac Asimov’s “The caves of Steel”. It was the second novel from the famous humanoid robotic series and a 1960’s edition. A book lover friend of mine had borrowed it against my wish. When he didn’t return it, I asked a local bookseller to get me another copy, but it was hard to find. After unsuccessfully searching through various book stores and mainly ‘Crossword’, I was able to find a copy with a ‘scrap paper dealer’. I found out that it was my own book with my name written on the front page. Although I knew that it was my own book, I had to buy it again from the scrap. Priceless!
Afraid of losing it, I hid it in my house only to lose it again, but this time never to be found.
But once again, I said nothing. Not to the book lover, not to the scrap dealer and definitely not to myself. I knew that the book lover had borrowed my book. I knew that it had simply reached the scrap dealer. I knew that I was re-purchasing my own book. And I still did nothing, do you know why?
Simply because …
I am “A Good Man”!