Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dead or Alive: A Lesson for Benjamin Johnson

March 1999

I don't believe in ghosts, unless they are created by you and stay in your heart as demons tearing you apart from time to time.

But everyone else I went to school with did. I still remember the time our English teacher had taken a lesson about a young businessman who had struggled throughout his childhood to earn a livelihood but managed to strike deals that made him a millionaire. The tragedy was that when it was time for him to live in the lap of luxury after all that effort, he died in an accident. At the end of the story, his loved ones - including his wife - started spotting him in various locations, hinting that his soul was roaming about to reap the benefits of his hard work.

We were given an assignment to continue and conclude the story. While my other classmates penned imaginative ghost stories, I offered a simpler explanation.

The young businessman had never died to begin with. He had suspicions of unethical practices being followed in his company, which led to him having to go incognito for an investigation. He had appointed a man who looked like him to occupy the office, but things got worse when his stand-in died in an accident which made it difficult for his family to identify the body. Everyone assumed it was the company boss because of the clothes the victim was wearing at the time of his death.

I pictured myself as a private detective getting to the bottom of this mystery, and learned that the entrepreneur was alive all along and that his lookalike was murdered by his business partner who was behind the malpractices in the company.

My teacher told me that I had a bright future as a policeman or private detective. The question is: will my nation encourage me to go on that path, or will I lose my way because of detours laid out by those in power?

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