Today’s prompt has had me clueless for around six hours now, because I am the kind of person who simply cannot say NO. I have spent a good part of my school life writing Preface, Acknowledgement, Introductions and Conclusions that accompany a project report or writing speeches or framing points of a debate for my friends, because I was proficient in English or teaching people because we had a bad a teacher/the person concerned had a short attention span and because I love teaching. Not to forget, the magnitude of guilt that a small refusal could have induced in my brain, has been an important factor. The slight glitch over here is that I am a very quiet person and in my experience people often perceive silence for arrogance, so a handful of people never approached me because they assumed I would have anyway given them a cold shoulder.
In the middle of these thoughts, I came up with an answer to the prompt, I have never helped someone cheat. I turn a deaf ear towards such pleas or give a vicious look or come up with a response like, “Why don’t you figure it out for yourself?”. It is not like I am a holier than thou individual who has never indulged into a sinful activity but I believe in equality. Now, I have sat down and spent a few hours learning a text or interpreting a concept or practising problems the opportunity cost being television and anybody who knows me is aware of my obsession with television. Or for that matter mental trauma coupled with deprivation of television in a subject like Physics when I can’t make sense of one word; I know the three laws of motion but I have a problem in front of me which says that a bullet is shot into a block of wood at x km per hour, calculate the distance it travels, how will I know what formula to apply, I sit down for hours anxiously waiting for Newton’s help. Ninth standard physics still gives me tremors and imagine a person asking me the solution to the same problem in exam, wouldn’t it be unfair that I help them with regard to a matter which has caused loss of a few strands, led to a few midnight binges and finally made me miss at least three shows in a night. So peeping into my paper or expecting a prompt from me during an exam is off the table.
I have never cheated in an exam; there have been a couple of times when I was on the verge of flunking but I have never looked right and left. Recently I appeared for a Business Law exam, honest to God I hate theory subjects, so that tome-like book had been nothing more than an object of repulsion for me. When I saw the question paper I was shocked beyond belief because I could not recall one thing I had read, out of the seven questions I did not even know one question in its entirety but the thought of asking for help never crossed my mind. Imagine the irony when I told my Dad who happens to be a lawyer about the horrifying exam. What followed was a series of nightmares, mental images floating in my mind about the day when I will have to inform my parents about my failure and questions if I will be able to adjust to the idea that I have indeed failed. After three months the result came out and I passed maybe because of a hazy grasp on a few sections or good presentation skills or because of a series of flukes. Thinking of it, studies have always been my forte and if I had actually failed I could not have summed up my predicament into words; and even then if I could resist from cheating then I believe that any other person can.
How far can cheating take you? A proxy in class or a pre placement talk (a recent experience), what good will it do to you? You can cheat in an exam, but can you cheat in an interview or when you are working or with what conscience will you ever tell your tell children to not cheat. When someone cheats you, tricks you or deceives you, don’t you lose the right to complain because you have yourself cheated a number of people in that spur of the moment when you poked a finger to the person sitting ahead of you.
And yes, cheating comes in other manifestations as well. When you choose to believe that you are a virtuous individual who likes to see the world in a rose tinted view, believes that no man has a folly but on that fateful day you let that lip run off the leash, then again you are cheating, perhaps causing a sizeable harm by not being upfront about your feelings in the first place itself.