Way back in the 1970s, I was a construction engineer in an oil company. It had been newly launched by my fellow Memons from Bantva in India. I had been out of touch with members of my community and hadn't made any Memon friends in school or college. So I was shocked to find that they used four letter words frequently in their speech. I was also astounded to find that practically every Memon there tried to take bribes from suppliers, contractors and every outsider who needed to get something done.

The managing director was an illiterate son of the richest man in the country. So he naturally thought I was also taking bribes from the many contractors who reported to me. One day he actually said it, and I immediately went to the house of my boss (a great man named Farukhi) and offered him my resignation. He tore up my resignation letter and said he would let me go only after I found another job. The poor man himself was sacked by the illiterate boss a couple of months later. 

I also knew that the guttersnipe was looting the company. I won't go into details but I got confirmation when some bills were accidentally sent to me for verification for work which had never been done. I went to my immediate superior at the time and asked him what the hell was going on. He winked and pointed towards the MD's office to indicate that the money was going to him.

When the company was nationalized, I felt sorry at first, but then I thought the owners deserved it,  considering that they had looted the company and deprived poor shareholders of their legitimate profits. Among the shareholders there were poor widows and people who were struggling to survive on meager incomes.

As for myself, even though I never took money from suppliers or contractors, I was thought to be highly corrupt by practically everyone who worked in the company. To make both ends meet after my marriage, I had started working as a visiting lecturer at the engineering college where I had studied. I had also taken contracts to build storage tanks in a paint factory. One day as I was lecturing to the students, I saw with horror my department head standing outside the Dean's office nearby. He hadn't seen me, but I decided to tell him that I was doing part time work without taking permission from him. He was amazed. Like everyone else he too had been thinking that I was highly corrupt. So he said, "This proves you are not making illicit income, you're honest". He then told me to go on giving lectures until my retirement. And he always treated me with the greatest respect whenever we met.

I've never regretted being honest, even though some of my relatives told me I was a fool. I've had students who went on to become millionaires before they turned forty, I've had relatives who made billions illegally, but I doubt if I'd have been happy if I had been corrupt.