My father holds a special place in my heart – and with Fathers Day this past Sunday, I want to give a shout out to my dad (now long gone) and share a story about him.
One summer afternoon when I was about nine years old, I was in the kitchen of our house in an un-named tropical country. I heard a rap at the back door. I peeked out – a man I didn’t recognize stood there. He thrust a small white envelope he’d been holding into my hands and rushed off.
I turned the envelope in my hands curiously – it was creased – as if it had been folded in a pocket- and it was sealed, and my dad’s name was written on it in blue ink. When my dad got home, I gave him the envelope and explained how it had arrived.
He took it from me and went to his room and changed, and a little while later he came back with the open envelope in his hand. We sat together on the porch, as we sometimes did. Dad looked both thoughtful and angry. After a moment, he said, “I want to share something with you; it’s upsetting but important, and I think you’re old enough to be told.”
He explained that the letter was, in fact, an oblique bribe. Dad had been holding interviews for new nurses at his hospital with his nursing staff, and one of the candidates had offered him in the unsigned letter a monthly payment if he or she was given the job and a scheme for doing this. He had just spoken with his head nurse, and they had a plan to figure it out, so they could eliminate this person from consideration.
He said, “This is corruption, and it spoils everything it touches. It takes money away from people and even makes good things, like a job, turn bad.”
A lesson that is still valid today.
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Photograph courtesy of the author, Maya Brahmam