Honesty is a much berated word in these times. But I have a story to share with you which shows that morality, integrity and trustworthiness exist, even todayOn my recent visit to my brother’s house in California, my sister-in-law took me to visit one of her close friends. The lady was an Indian, married to a well-respected Indian professor, the head of his department in a prestigious university in USA.
Her house’s interior was an eclectic mix of different cultures. A Rajasthani sculpture here, a Kerala elephant there, huge Arabian wall hanging occupying a prominent wall and a lacquer painting from Vietnam adorning her son’s bedroom walls.
The lacquer painting caught my eye and I spent some time admiring them. That is when she told me the story of how it came into her possession.
Her husband used travel to Vietnam for conferences quite often. Near the hotel where he stayed in Hanoi, was a crafts shop where you could commission the craftsmen to make a painting for you. The professor paid a certain amount to the artist there and asked for a painting which was to be done in four panels. It was quite an expensive piece of work but the professor trusted the man and paid the amount. He left his card behind and said he would collect the painting on his next visit to Vietnam.
Few months later when the professor looked for the shop in Hanoi, it was no longer there. On inquiring, he got the news that the craftsmen had relocated to different places and no one knew about their whereabouts.
Being of stoic nature, the gentleman wrote off his loss as a bad investment and returned to USA.
It was almost two years after the professor had placed that order, that the artist called their home in the US. They had forgotten about the incident completely by then.
The professor’s wife was enjoying a peaceful afternoon at home, when she got a call from an unknown person, speaking with an orient accent. The man wanted to know if the professor still lived in that address as he had a parcel to post to him. He recounted his acquaintance with her husband in Hanoi and explained that circumstances had made him quit Vietnam and that he was now living with his daughter in America. He said that he had completed the painting ordered by her husband and was sending it by courier that week.
My sister in law’s friend did not comprehend him fully and just did not take him seriously
But a few days later, a huge parcel was delivered at their home from a city on the east coast of USA. On opening it, the husband and wife found the beautiful painting that the professor had commissioned to be done for him.
It was perfect to the last detail!
The artist had stuck to his side of the bargain, across continents and across much time-lapse.
No one would have penalised the Vietnamese gentleman for not turning in the painting. In fact, no one would have discovered him in the vast expanses of America. Yet he chose to be honest to his profession.He had even spent out of his own pocket to mail the bulky panels all the way across America, from one coast to another.
When the lady of the house narrated the story to me, she said with awe in her voice:
“You know something… he could have sold the painting for a large amount in the US…It is that expensive!”
Before I left her house I looked at the painting one more time. I admired it all the better now because it portrayed not only the artist superb craftsmanship, but it also carried with it, the imprint of his honesty and righteousness!!
It had now become that priceless!!
P.S: The hand of a craftsman engaged in his craft is always pure….Manu.
Story By Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.
Photographs shown here are of the original paintings that I admired in the friend’s house.
Please leave your comments in the comments box below.