It was last period of Value education in grade 9th that Saturday. I reached almost breathlessly to the classroom on the second floor, self motivating myself that the next day would bring some rest from the hectic week. Reaching the door of the class room it did not take me time to recognize that even the kids were tired and bored of monotonous and rot learning through the day. Smiling brightly to encourage them; I put up a challenging question like an expert sportsman throws his javelin in the air, knowing pretty well how far it would fall. I looked straight into their eyes and asked, ‘ Did you steal someone’s property today? Who has the courage to admit and to confess what it was that you stole today and of whom?’

There was pin drop silence in the whole class. That was exactly what I knew would happen and the trick had always done wonders to bring the class to attentive mode. I smiled and patted myself proudly for having achieved my heart’s goal. Then next lesson namely “WHO STEALS WHAT”, explored the things that we all steal of others, other’s property, someone’s pride, someone’s time and sometimes someone’s peace.

The lesson reading went out excellently with kids paying rapt attention to it. It was time to discuss the questions given at the end of the chapter when my voice trailed off in air, when suddenly Raman Bhalla got up and stammered in low voice, ‘ Miss’!

integrityTaken aback I quickly looked up at him and asked in strong and impatient voice; for I was in a hurry to finish up the reading and discussion of the lesson scheduled for the day; Yes Raman What is it?

He looked ashamed and uneasy but he continued in low voice, ‘Miss I stole some money from my father’s purse today. It was 100 rs that I stole. I was not sure if I saw a tear drop trickle down his eyes as he looked at me reproachfully.

I went to his side and consoled him saying, ‘You are a brave boy. You had the courage to admit your mistake in front of all. Now take a step further and after going home admit it to your father yourself. I am sure he would forgive you and love you for realizing the wrong that you had committed. God in heaven is pleased with you for admitting you wrong doing Raman. I could read expressions of some hope and peace on his face.

Then before I could start off again Suchita Bhatia got up and asked me in a defensive tone, ‘Miss have you stolen something precious of someone today? My heart missed a beat and it just jumped out of the place where it is and came to my mouth. It was my integrity put to test that day.

Vandana Goel

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