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MnMWhen Josh came home from kindy one day, Isha discovered chocolate in his tiffin box.

She was a bit puzzled as she had neither bought it for him nor given him any money to buy it.

When she asked him about it, he was a coy at first but after some persistent questioning, he told her that he had taken them from another child's stuff as he really liked them.

"You stole?" she smacked him, "Is this what we have taught you?"

Josh twisted and turned, trying to escape her grasp, but it made her angrier. His struggles earned him a few more slaps.

"You can't just take other people's things that you like," she fumed, "They belong to them. They are theirs, not yours. If they gave it to you themselves, fine."

"But if you take them without their knowledge or permission, it is stealing. People who steal are called thieves. And the world punishes theft severely. It puts thieves in jail."

“Do you understand?” she asked him sternly.

He nodded, crying loudly from pain.

When enough tears had been spilt, she left him sobbing with more food for thought, "There will be hell to pay when your father hears of this tonight."

She knew the matter wasn't finished. She would have to report it to Rosh and only God knew what he was going to do. He had been in high temper that morning.

When she told him about the incident with some trepidation that evening at the dinner table, he listened with uncharacteristic calm.

The family ate their dinner in complete silence as they waited patiently for whatever it was that was about to happen. Rosh was thinking as he ate and no one interrupted his train of thought.

"It is good that he did it now rather than later," he finally said to Isha across the table when dinner had finished, "And it is excellent that you were vigilant and caught him straightaway. Now it can be nipped in the bud."

The family waited for more. Rosh turned to Josh and asked him quietly if he understood that he had done wrong.

The little boy nodded.

"Why did you do it?" he asked.

"He didn't eat them at lunch, so he didn't want them. I wanted them, so I took them." Josh said reasonably.

"Beware son," said Rosh, "for the mind justifies what the heart desires."

"Will you do it again?" he asked.

The little boy shook his head.

"Okay, let's not hear ever again that you stole something," Rosh said placidly and asked, "And what will you do with these lollies?"

"I don't know," answered Josh, "Eat them?"

"No," said Rosh, "You can't eat them. And you can't keep them. You will return them tomorrow to their owner and apologize to them."

Josh stared back silently at his father.

"Are you prepared to do that?" Rosh's tone rose half a decibel.

Quickly the child agreed.

"Don't make him do that," Isha argued, "No point in declaring it from rooftops. It will only publicly assassinate his character."

It seemed the practical, reasonable thing to do. He yielded.

Temptation smiled unseen in the darkest corners of his mind. It had triumphed again.

Next: Caught You Red-Handed

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