Fact and Fiction Come with Financial Slant

Published: 12th November 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2014 10:52 PM   |  A+A-

A fresh example of how shells of falsehood hide the pith of facts struck me the other day. One of my relatives complains her well-to-do son does not care for her, threatening she would move to an old age home. One day, the son took her to a “pricey” ophthalmologist, who prescribed for her a costly pair of specs.

Talented from birth in meticulous accounting which education and practice had strengthened, she calculated the auto fare (they went in his car!) and the cost of her “head lamp” (in reckoning which she relied on what she was prepared to cough up, instead of the tidy sum the son was separated from), and back home, she thrust into his hands—ignoring his protests—`2975.50.

That evening, she bragged to her friends she had met the entire cost of her vision correction, which is a fact but one that also spun a web of falsehood around it—an innuendo that the boy, a hardened animal bereft of tender feelings, had no qualms in extracting his pound of flesh.

The son knew his refusal to accept the money would take matters to dangerous zones by way of the mother’s insinuations and abuse lasting for hours, corroding his composure, making it safer for him to err on the side of caution.

No wonder, a court of law insists on truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth. Drowning of surrounding, supervening and antecedent facts and parading select truths can project untruth.

Law would say that express mention of one thing is an exclusion of the other and that presumptions are bats flitting in the twilight and disappearing in the sunshine of facts, implying one’s right, if at all, to extract the unstated from the stated is limited. The mother’s claim she paid the money is no evidence of the son’s meanness. R W Emerson said: “What you are stands over you the while and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”

In a different context, Lord Chesterfield is said to have remarked: “Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give lustre, and many more people see than weigh.”

And this general flaw in the scheme of things enables many to fool some people for some time, though not all people all the time, and this gives the adherents of sophistry temporary victory.

Quite a few believe human beings lend themselves to monetary evaluation and costing, ultimately reducible to a figure. Of course, not quite surprising since today everything comes with a price tag, wiping out sentiments.

To cite the most sordid hypothetical example: While looking at the dead body of, say, a 15-year-old son, the first reaction would be one of awful grief over the fact that `285760 has gone down the drain as money spent on his food, clothing, books and medicines! It is of such people that Machiavelli said: “Man more readily forgets the death of his father than the loss of patrimony.”

Isha Upanishad says, “hiranmayena patrena satyasyapihitam mukham” (Truth lies hidden by a gold vessel).

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