Granny Story: Granny Gheeta's Tale of The PublicansPublished Jun 20, 2011
In Jamaica, paying taxes is an arduous but necessary event. Folks rarely make a big deal about the task, primarily because they are not subjected to filing tax returns. They pay taxes on their land, property and water, usually at the end of each year.
Growing up in Jamaica, there was always a time when Granny Gheeta became engrossed in documents and papers. Granny Gheeta was an accurate and clever little Accountant in her own right. She prided herself for keeping an accurate tally of every dollar or penny spent during the course of her life. Every transaction that Granny conducted, she kept receipts on a wire hanger in her house. It was her antiquated way of sorting through the paperwork she had accumulated in her life.
Granny participated in these tasks for her own peace of mind, not because she had the Publican or Tax Collector hovering over her affairs.
As a child, I never quite understood her ritual of accounting, however, as I grew older I began to understand why she was always diligent in all her business dealings.
One day, as Granny and I sat talking in the garden a very official man came up to the driveway informing Granny Gheeta that she owed back taxes on her property. Granny Gheets was mortified by the mere implication of this character. She asked to see his identification and persisted that his records were gravely mistaken because she kept thorough files and there were no indications that she had any outstanding balances.
The gentleman was very stern and unwavering in his opinions. He was unwilling to hear my Granny's denial of his assessment, he was just very adamant in the way he informed her that the funds had to be paid as soon as possible, and then he left. If this had been anyone except my grandmother, they probably would not have questioned his tactics or motives and would have acquiesced to his requests.
However, when it came to financial matters, Granny was always circumspect. Granny was not fooled or swayed by his "Officiality", she proceeded to go through her files with a fine tooth comb in order to present the Tax Colllector's office with facts.
I had not seen Granny for a few hours, so I proceeded to knock on her parlour door, when I entered, I saw Granny ensconced in a feast of papers. Finally, shrieking, "Aha! Here it is ! If they think they can take advantage of a little old lady, they have something coming!"
I asked Granny what was wrong. She explained to me about taxes by telling me the story of Zaccheus in the bible.
Granny said, "Magli, as people get older they have responsibilities to pay taxes etc. In the bible everyone hated the Tax Collectors or Publicans as they were called. They equated Tax Collectors with serious sinners and Prostitutes. In the time of Jesus, people had to pay 1% taxes on their property and possessions. Most Tax Collectors found a way to make the people pay more. Zaccheus was a short, rich, clever, Jew, who was a Tax Collector. All his people hated him because he had done terrible things in the name of collecting taxes. However, there came a time in Zaccheus's life where he had felt so bad about his chicanery, that he sought God out by climbing a sycamore-fig tree. God had been preaching to the Town's local gentry and he didn't think God would notice him...but he did. God forgave Zaccheus for all his unthinkable acts and made him a part of his revival brigade. Through God's glory and mercy, Zaccheus made reparations to all the clients he had cheated. Granny smiled.....This kar (Tax) man is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is about to have his own Zaccheus experience."
I was very enthused with my Granny Gheeta's explanation of Taxes. Her biblical explanation made me ponder, how God could forgive people who take advantage of others?
I asked Granny, "Do you think God will forgive this kar man for deceiving you?"
Granny responded, " God saves the lost and misguided, whether or not they are deserving".
The next morning, Granny and I were up bright and early to make a visit to the Publican's Office about her aayarkar (Tax) as she called it. She was prepared to show him her documents attesting that her property had been paid for in full and that there were no taxes pending. Her taxes had been paid for, for the next 10 years. Granny was a good Kardata (Taxpayer). His nirdharan ( assessment) of her property was absolutely incorrect and he owed her an apology. The kar (tax) matter had been resolved, and she sat waiting for an earnest apology from the Tax Collector's office.
The overconfident man had been reduced to a dribbling, apologetic, civil servant seeking blessings and forgiveness from my grandmother.
Granny cooly commented, "Thank you for seeing things my way, however, forgiveness is between you and God. Just think about all the other people your office has tried to pull a fast one on."
Granny left the Publican's office feeling vindicated and empowered. She felt as if she had served all her geriatric friends from treachery and conniving officials. With the wind in her hair and her sari trailing behind her, Granny grabbed my hand and we sauntered off in confidence, knowing that minding your personal business properly can always serve you well.
Whenever we think of all the individuals who have committed unforgiveable, heinous acts and seek to condemn and crucify them, we should also remember that God reaches out to the neglected and despised of the world regardless of what their peers think.........
Even when people hurt us for their own gain and glorification God's day of reckoning comes in due time.
Hindu Tax words: