Suspicion by Shernaz Wadia SignUp

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Sometime back my internet connection suddenly conked off and I had to call in a technician from the service provider. When he informed me that he would be here in less than an hour, what was the first thing I did? I kept all the necessary information handy. No I didn’t want to be all helpful so as not to waste his time. I did it so I wouldn’t have to open up drawers in his presence. Then I removed the key from my cupboard and put a glass and bottle of water on the dining table, so I could not be cornered in the kitchen. I wanted to stay alert because I would have been alone in the house when he came. Once he was here, I opened the curtain and door to the balcony as wide as possible so the neighbour could see what was going on in my house.  It wasn’t paranoia. It is what an online dictionary terms ‘cautious distrust’.  These were well thought out self-protective steps. These days one can never be too careful.

More than once he asked for the password and then I caught him scribbling on a pad, which he shut in one quick movement, before I could peep into it. I now knew he had jotted down the password. Anyway, he soon got the connection going and then pushed the pad towards me, “Sign on this” and guess what! The password was not jotted down. I felt very embarrassed and was glad I hadn’t confronted him. But this again was cautious distrust.

Once after I paid off a rickshawala and took the change, I found his behaviour strange. Anyway I got down, thanked him and went home to realise that he had short-changed me by forty rupees. Had I not dismissed my gut feeling as mere suspicion and been less trusting, I wouldn’t have lost my money. It was my fault so all I could do was pray that the money would serve him in a good way and he wouldn’t continue to cheat others. As Elbert Hubbard has said “It is better to be victimized occasionally than to go through life filled with suspicion.” And believe me, I have been conned out of money more than once. But then there have been those who have returned a five hundred rupee note that I gave absent-mindedly instead of a hundred rupee one. It happened twice.

 ‘Suspicion’ is a baseless feeling of misgiving. It does not make me proud to say that I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. It is not intense and frequent but it is there – the tendency to doubt the maid’s word, that instant reaction to believe so-and-so has stolen something that has gone missing, to see ghosts where none exist. And oh, no! I alone am not blameworthy. I know many of you out there are members of this club. Wouldn’t we all love to call it discernment not distrust?

All of us have this basic instinct, a trait that can be very useful for personal safety and that of our belongings. The trick is to keep it within proper limits, not to suspect anyone and everyone till it makes us paranoid and we see crooks and conmen, liars and louts lurking in every person we interact with.

The suspicious mind believes more than it doubts. It believes in a formidable and ineradicable evil lurking in every person. - Eric Hoffer

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