Religion is at times the reason, both for our happiness and miseries. Don't know if someone said that before or not, but in my view it looks appropriate for the situation, which someone I knew a bit came across. His life would have been better at least for a while had not religion intervened in his life through his wife's conscience. Not to say he wasn't religious, in fact he was very religious and honest as well but was very needy too.
After all he was just a chauffeur and he was certain that in this life of his he wouldn't accomplish anything beyond that. Life was going at a snail’s pace for him till that unsolicited morning when he chanced upon a gold bracelet that was lying idle under the front seat of my car. He noticed it when he was cleaning the car, a part of his daily responsibility. The gold sparkled in his eyes and reminded him of his immediate need; he needed money to repair the leaking roof of his house. Soon it would be rainy season and he wasn't yet able to save enough this year to be able to mend the roof.
The bracelet looked Godsend. His eyes twinkled with happiness; his prayers seemed to have paid off. But it wasn't his. It couldn't be mine either he thought because he was sure that he had never seen me wearing a gold bracelet. He was right it wasn't mine. Thus he thought might be God himself placed it under the car seat to help him, to reward his prayers. He thought for a while and then decided that he will wait for a few days, if it belonged to me or my family members and if I make inquires about it, he would return it.
But wait... If he returns it when I ask about it, it would be clear that the bracelet was in his possession already and he thought that I might fire him for not bringing it up on his own. Anyways, he thought that the bracelet didn't belong to my family and there wasn't any need to dwell upon such thoughts any further. That day he went home and showed it to his wife, thinking that it would make her very happy. But to his surprise his wife reprimanded him and accused him of stealing the bracelet from his employer.
He tried to explain to her again and again that the bracelet didn't belong to his employer or his family and he actually found it under the car seat and that it was really Godsend. But his wife wasn't convinced and asked him to return the bracelet to his employer as his act tantamount to stealing and was forbidden by their religion. He was furious as his wife accused him of stealing, he could not understand it. He thought and argued that he didn't steal it. He explained repeatedly but failed to understand why his wife couldn't. Also, he was very sure that his act couldn't be termed as theft. There were heated arguments between him and his wife, and at the end she gave him an ultimatum that if he didn't return the bracelet to his employer within 5 days she would inform them that he stole the bracelet and deserved to be punished.
Despite this, he said that he will not return it on his own, but proposed to wait for few days to see if his employer inquires about it. If that happens he will return the bracelet after making some story. Anyways, on the other hand, my wife and I were totally unaware of all this. Also neither of us owned any such bracelet. So our lives were proceeding in normal manner until one day when my wife received a call from a woman, she said that she was the chauffeurs’ wife and narrated the entire episode over the phone and requested my intervention as she thought that her husband was committing a grave sin and she wanted to correct the situation as their religion didn't permit them to have such an unjust enrichment.
My wife was stumped and did not know what to say, she said that she would talk to me and get back to her. The woman also mentioned that because of this both she and her husband are not having peace in their lives as they are regularly arguing and fighting on this issue without reaching anywhere and that she wanted to get rid of this unhappy state. Also that her husband is a very honest and God fearing man, but the immediate need had blinded him otherwise he could never do something like this. My wife assured her that she would get back to her as soon as possible. When I came back from work that day my wife recalled the whole story in front of me. On prodding further she confirmed that the bracelet belonged to my father-in-law and he had lost it when he had visited us two weeks back. Since, he wasn’t sure where did he lose it he kept it to himself as we would have unnecessarily been tensed. He also thought that it wasn’t a good idea to bring such a thing to the notice of one’s son-in-law. I protested to my wife that I am not a fan of such an orthodox thinking and that he should have shared this with us on his own. My wife suggested that there is not point brooding over it and we should rather focus on resolving the situation at hand.
On the other hand, my wife didn’t tell her father that the bracelet is in my chauffer’s possession. She had just gathered this information from her mother, without telling her that the chauffer found it in the car and hasn’t brought it to our attention. My wife and I deliberated how to handle this, as we had no proof as such that the chauffer is still in possession of the bracelet. Also we weren’t very sure that if I confront him and tell him I am aware that he found the bracelet and took it, he is going to return it. He might simply refuse to admit the whole thing and on to top it all he might accuse us of putting the blame on him. Though this was conclusive enough for us to be sure that the bracelet was with him when linked it with the fact that my father-in-law lost his during the same period when he came to meet us. But we weren’t sure if that was enough to get the bracelet back. However, now having known that the bracelet belonged to her father, my wife was also desperate to get it back and give it to him as she was sure that he would be very pleased seeing it.
I was even worried that my driver might stop turning up for work now that his wife had given him the ultimatum. So few more days passed in deliberation and discussion between me and my wife on finding the best method or way of getting it back without causing any damage whatsoever to anyone.
Next day when I got down from my apartment to leave for work and my chauffer opened the door of the car to let me in, he asked me in a very low voice taking a bracelet out of his pocket if it belonged to me, as he had found it lying under the car seat this morning while cleaning. I told him that in fact it belonged to my father-in-law and thanked him for spotting it and returning it to us. Further, I tried to offer him some reward for his honesty, which he blankly refused. I kept the fact that he had found it around two weeks back and it was in his possession to myself.
Religion is at times the reason for the end of our miseries, I heard it somewhere. Do not remember now where?
PS: Thanks Rajeev for your contribution to our blog.