Dewan had stored a large number of wheat bags in his house. One day he found that ten bags were missing. He accused his neighbor Karanbir of theft. The matter was reported to the police and Karanbir was arrested and put in police lock up. A few days later the matter was heard by a judge in a court of law. The judge heard the case and pronounced Karanbir ‘not guilty.’ The judge told Dewan that Karanbir’s lawyers had asked for payment of damages, in the sense of ‘mental trauma’, ‘loss of reputation’, ‘loss at work for being unable to attend to his job’ etc.’ Dewan said to the Judge, “My Lord, I apologize for accusing him, but I don’t think I should be asked to pay damages of any kind since there is no physical or financial loss to him.”
The judge said, “Alright, I shall surely think about this. I shall write the judgement tomorrow. Meanwhile can I get a handful of wheat from your stocks? I would like to see the quality of wheat that you harvest.”
Dewan got a handful of wheat and showed it to the judge. The judge said, “Now you may go home. Come tomorrow and I shall pronounce the judgement. Here, take this wheat in your palm and while you walk home, drop the grains one by one, all along your way.” Dewan was baffled by the judge’s order, but nonetheless he dropped the grains of wheat all through his way home.
The next day Dewan was in court and so was Karanbir. The judge said to Dewan, “Now my friend, I shall pronounce the judgment in your favour, if you can go back and collect all the grains of wheat that you dropped on your way home yesterday.” Dewan retorted, “How can I possibly find them now? Most of them would have been scattered here or there. Some would have blown away. Some would have been eaten by birds or may be taken root. Some may have been picked up by someone …”
The judge raised his hand to silence Dewan and said, “The tag of ‘thief’ that you have accorded on your neighbour here has also been scattered in many directions. Can you undo all the unpleasant things that have been said about him? The number of people who think him to be a thief is something that nobody can count, for the word would have spread near and far. Can you restore his peace of mind and loss of goodwill? Can you give him back the time that he has lost, while in jail? Can you give him back his sanity?”
It is said that a spoken word is like an arrow that has left the bow. It can never be brought back. Think before you speak. Do not wound another’s heart by your words, for a word sometimes pierces harder than a sword!