Memoirs

When I Stole from School


It was in 1934 when, after having passed my High School (X Grade) in 1933, I had joined the Ewing Christian College at Allahabad for my Intermediate classes. I was sixteen years old. It was a fine college, set up by American missionaries, and I was thoroughly enjoying there.

The college had organized a Chemical exhibition. We were supposed to demonstrate various chemical reactions and how they created magic. Two colorless liquids, when mixed together, turning the mixture into a beautiful pink. Or two transparent liquids on being mixed. becoming milky. The whole thing was so fascinating and we were simply charmed by these mysterious processes, to which we were getting introduced. The entire laboratory of the Chemistry department was at our disposal to do whatever we liked, to create such wonders.

It was during this period, that I entered the lab store, noticed a vial of Gold Chloride, and was tempted to sneak it. Yet in my mind, there was the fear of being caught. What if someone noticed me doing so? I would, apart from being embarrassed, would also be badly humiliated. But no! Who would notice it? The lure of owning Gold, even if it was in the form of it's Chloride (and I did not even know how much was it worth), was so great, that I brushed my qualms aside, and forcibly threw all my fears out of my mind. I succumbed to the temptation and quietly slipped it into my pocket. Near it was also a small bottle of Potassium cyanide. I thought that I should sneak it too, so that if I was caught, I would swallow it, rather than being shamed and being declared a thief.

Anyway, I came home without being caught and thus the need for swallowing the deadly poison did not arise. But was I happy? Far from it. The peace of my mind was completely shattered. What had I done? Why did I do it? Even if I had not been caught, my action had, not only lowered me in my own eyes, but had disgraced me and also the name of my family for ever in the eyes of God. After all, God knows that I have sinned. Could he ever excuse me and could I hope to escape from his punishment. It was indeed a real torment. And this continued churning my mind for nearly three months.

Finally, I could not bear the torture any longer, and I decided to atone for it. I took the Gold Chloride as well as the Potassium Cyanide bottles back to the college, went to the teacher, Mr. Bannerji, and put them on his table. I told him that I had come to make a confession. The teacher raised his eyes in a questioning manner and I told him that I had stolen those from the store at the exhibition time. I also told him that I was prepared for any punishment he might decide for this act of mine. Saying this I broke into tears.

The teacher took the bottles back and said that the very fact that I had brought them back without being caught by someone else showed that I already had had enough of punishment and he did not consider any further punishment necessary.

Even though over sixty-five years have passed, I still feel an anguish in my heart as to why and how I could do such a thing for which I would never be able to excuse myself.    

28-May-2006

More by :  Arya Bhushan

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