A short story on honesty being the best policy, at all times. Ram was stuck at one question. As luck would have it, he got a prompt. But did he use it?

“Just 10 minutes more, hurry up,” said the invigilator.

When Ram heard this, his heart raced faster. He was desperately trying to write whatever he knew in the exam. Ram was a studious student and had never failed before, but for the first time fear gripped him as he was unable to answer a lot of questions.

The children were writing an exam on Mahatma Gandhi’s life history. The exam was being conducted by an external organisation and Ram had not prepared well for it, as he thought it would not affect his overall marks.

Ram read the question — “Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar was known by a different name. What is the name?”

Ram had read the answer to this, but now his memory failed him. He remembered that the name contained “puri” in it (he remembered it because puri was his favourite food item). Yet, he was unable to recall the name. The stress of writing the exam and added tension of listening to the invigilator’s countdown could have been the reason for his memory loss.

“Only five more minutes left, children. If you don’t stop writing when the bell rings, I will not collect your paper,” said the invigilator. For a minute, Ram felt that it was a good option.

But he tried to figure out the answer to the question.

The answer

Just then, he noticed that a piece of paper was on the floor. On it was written “Sudhamapuri”. He was surprised, as that was the name he had been trying to remember for the past 15 minutes. Lord Krishna’s childhood friend, Sudhama was believed to have been born here and so Porbandar was called Sudhamapuri.

He looked around to see if anyone had dropped the paper, but could not see anyone. He was wondering how that paper had appeared magically before him.

Sudhamapuri was the right answer, and Ram had time to write it down and get a few marks more — crucial marks that would give him a pass mark. But he thought to himself, “I am writing an exam on Gandhiji, a great follower of truth.” He remembered how the drama Harishchandra captured Gandhiji’s heart and how he strongly encouraged everyone to be truthful like Harishchandra.

Ram felt that it was not right to cheat in an exam about Mahatma Gandhi, who believed and spoke only the truth.

“How can I go against my conscience and copy this? Copying is untruthful, and maybe this is a test to check how truthful I can be,” he thought. So, he gave in the paper without writing the answer and walked out of the examination hall. His parents were proud of their idealistic son, and from that day onwards, truthfulness became one of Ram’s well-known virtues.

Ram narrated this incident several years later to his children to inculcate good values in them. Today, he is a successful research scientist.

“How many marks did you get in that exam dad?” asked Ram’s daughter.

That was the one detail which Ram couldn’t remember, but he was sure that he had scored good marks. He mentioned that being honest is a great virtue and it always helps one in achieving success. Truth triumphs!