Sometimes, a small act of a person whom we have never met teaches us a big life lesson. I often remember one such woman who set an exemplary standard of morality with her uncompromising attitude.
One of my friends pursued a career in dairy farming. After graduation, he did his Masters from a reputed institute in our country and then migrated to Denmark in search of better job opportunities in the early 1990s. He used to write letters to me once in a while and I also reciprocated to keep our friendship alive. Once, when I did not receive a reply to many of my letters, I went to his parents to enquire about the matter. They told me he had to change his residence and that was why he might not have got time to write to me.
After some time, I received a letter from him. He told me that he was working in Aarhus city and living at a farmhouse in a village nearby. One morning, he noticed that his landlady was very upset. She told him that her cows had given less milk than usual; so, some of her regular customers would not get milk that day. He suggested that adding water to the milk could solve the problem. At this, she became furious and threatened to report him to the police. He was fired and became jobless as well as homeless. He couldn’t find a job at a nearby farmhouse. He had no option but to leave the place. He got a job in a far-off city and was trying to get settled there. The letter brought back memories of my village days, when we kept an eagle eye on the person involved in milking, lest he diluted milk with water.
My friend’s story made me realise that the sense of right and wrong was not limited to big actions or major decisions; it was pertinent to our everyday conduct as well. In our country, where it is considered par for the course to add water to milk — or the other way round — morality is repeatedly battered and bruised. We are also well aware that the sale of spurious milk continues unabated, despite all the seasonal raids. Amid the rampant greed and profiteering, the unseen Danish woman reminds me that all is not lost; there is hope as long as somebody, somewhere chooses to suffer losses rather than indulge in any wrongdoing.
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