Whither good faith?

Mr Chekutty went straight to my father's office and handed over an envelope.

One cannot help feeling nostalgic reminiscing about the good old days of the bygone era, when it comes to shared warmth between neighbours, the inexpensive real (not virtual) games enjoyed by children or the trust and good faith people had in each other. One instance, in particular, from the late seventies remains deeply etched in my memory.

My father, a professor in a government college in Kasaragod, a small town in the northernmost tip of Kerala, was just transferred to Calicut, one of the bustling cities in the state. My brother and I were overjoyed, as we overheard our parents saying that our hostel life in Mangalore could be put to an end and we could become day scholars in view of the good number of decent schools in Calicut.

After completion of admission formalities in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Calicut, a modest house close to the school premises was rented out. On learning that the government had acquired a huge expanse of land in the outskirts called East Hill to construct the school’s own building, my father started searching for a plot to build our own house in the vicinity.
That’s when he met an elderly person, who the locals called Chekutty writer (the clerks in government offices were then addressed as writers) who owned some landed property just a stone’s throw away from the Kendriya Vidyalaya site. But when my father approached him, he said that he had no intent to sell.

His search continued for months till one day, Chekutty approached him and to his pleasant surprise, offered to sell a piece of land. He only said that it pricked his conscience after he was obliged to part with another portion of the same land to the deputy collector who happened to be one of his superiors in office.

My father appreciated his magnanimity not only for reverting, but also for agreeing to sell him 10 cents of plot for the same price offered to the first buyer. What transpired after a couple of weeks would be beyond the realm of imagination for anyone today. Chekutty went straight to my father’s office and handed over an envelope.

When queried about the contents, he only said, “Prof, as desired the 10 cents plot earmarked for you has been registered in your name. The document is available in the envelope and you may please remit the agreed price in my bank account, details of which are written behind.”

My father was stunned by the trust and utmost good faith shown by a man of ordinary means, who parted with his valuable property even before receiving the money for it. The amount was promptly remitted within a week.

No doubt the world was a smaller place then and academicians were held in much higher esteem. Yet, would anyone do it in the dog eat dog world today? As much as future generations would disbel­ieve that a person like Mahatma Gandhi ever existed in flesh and blood, none would imagine that people once had so much trust and good faith in each other.

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