Why honesty is the best policy
Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar
Dubai — When I came to Dubai to join my father (Baba) in the shop, I was in my 20s. Baba had set a strange practice of paying me monthly like any other worker in the shop. Initially it was in the form of pocket money, but when he appointed me as a manager, he started to give me a salary.
This continued for more than a decade. Despite being the son of the owner and also the managing director of Al Adil Trading Company, my actual status was a mere salaried employee. Baba kept the sole proprietorship with him even after his retirement from the business. Eventually he returned to India and settled in Mumbai; I continued my life in Dubai looking after the business.
Things were manageable until I got married and had two children. It became difficult for me to manage the expenses within the limited salary. During one of my regular visits to Mumbai I boldly demanded to Baba to give me some share from the annual profit to cover my rising expenses. He coldly asked me if this boldness had been taught to me by my wife. I didn’t retort to his sarcastic remark and kept silent.
Perhaps Baba thought over my condition and realised my dilemma. The next day he laid a proposal before me. He offered me the entire annual profit, provided I would give him a fixed share as proprietor’s right for his lifetime.
I accepted the condition and followed the agreement diligently. I would hand over his share every six months sincerely, without fail. The practice continued regularly. He also never stopped his habit of checking the accounts carefully. Sometimes I would wonder about this particular behaviour and ask myself whether he distrusted me.
But I never complained and abided by the agreement honestly. When Baba breathed his last, I was unfortunately not beside him. Hearing about his bad health, I caught the next flight and reached Mumbai. Alas, he was gone. At home when we were all mourning, Baba’s home nurse arrived and handed a diary to me.
She told me that Baba had reminded her continually to give it only to me. Since we all were busy with the funeral rites arrangements, I kept the diary in my pocket without opening it.
That night before going to bed, I suddenly remembered the diary. As I began reading it, my eyes welled up with tears. Baba had written every detail of his bank account in the diary. He had never spent his share of profit. Instead, he had saved the entire amount as a bank deposit and gifted the enormous sum to me.
I realised then that Baba had actually desired nothing from me — he had only been testing my honesty. When I had satisfied his expectations, he rewarded me enormously. That was the highest prize I have ever gotten.
I remember an apt quote by Scott Hamilton: “The high road is always respected. Honesty and integrity are always rewarded.”
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