When Mohammad Abid Qureshi found wads of cash stuffed in a polythene bag on the roadside in Jaipur this week, fear, not joy, swaddled the rickshaw puller’s mind.
The 25-year-old spent the night tossing and turning in bed, scared of going to police who, he thought, could blame him for stealing the Rs 1.17 lakh.
“I am a Muslim,” Qureshi said, pointing out the reason behind his misgiving.
When he finally went to the local police station to surrender the money after speaking to the commissioner, his nightmare came true. Officials suspected he could be a carrier of fake currency and first took him to a machine that scanned all the notes to show they were genuine.
Qureshi slept peacefully on Thursday night. He was happy he didn’t fall prey to the lure of lucre.
His wife recalled how they sat dumbfounded in their one-room rented home in the old city area with bundles of Rs 500 notes strewn in front of them and their three-month-old daughter asleep.
“He (Qureshi) was restless on Wednesday night when he came home and showed me the packet. I also developed cold feet and asked him to give the money to police immediately. But, being Muslims, we were scared of going to a police station,” she said.
Qureshi said he found the packet at around 4pm on Wednesday and waited at the spot for the next six hours, hoping the person who had dropped it would return. But when no one came till 10 pm, Qureshi headed home.
“Many people in my locality said don’t return the money when no one has lodged a complaint,” he said. “They said this will change your life. But I was sure ill-gotten money would only bring problems and didn’t, even for a moment, think of keeping it.”
Qureshi is illiterate while his wife studied till Class 4. But they want their daughter to get educated so she can take the family legacy of honesty much further.