I think I should rename this blog again…no seriously…the amount of time I spend just brooding on the past and what it implies for the present. But for what its worth…here goes.
I saw something painful the other day. We were dining out on a warm, afternoon at an opulent Italian restaurant. And the couple next to us had peppered hair and a delightful, chirpy girl of five. So, then the daughter went underneath the table to pick something from the floor and her father calmly moved the table-cloth aside and slammed an open palm against the back of her head. Hard enough for the tiny head to jolt forward and for us to freeze completely, blood pounding. The man then proceeded on a tiny speech of how many times he had asked her not to do that. The mother behaved like all of this was absolutely normal.
Then, the most curious thing happened. The girl crawled back out, sat next to her mommy, no tears, no sulking, nothing. Five minutes later she was back to chiming what we heard her say most often: Papa.
Being a father is hard. Being a mother the hardest thing of all. But it is hard only because your ordinary little life is one day charged with the responsibility of something I find very hard to put into words. One restaurant incident is probably not enough evidence by which to judge a man, but I was sickened nonetheless. My parents, and all the parents I know have never been nonchalant about using violence and pain more easily than they use love. And I find such attitudes deeply disturbing. Especially because men like him do not even have the standard excuses: abject poverty and its psychological pressures, a lack of good education, the influence of alcohol.
I do not pity such men. i want to hurt them. But that wouldn’t solve anything either would it. I wonder why it is that we in India feel that the way to deal with domestic life’s underbelly is to expose it on TV and tabloids? Why are the sicknesses of the mind and the soul so callously treated here? Why is it unheard of to meet a counselor and take advice on how to raise a child. Especially nuclear families. I’m not saying joint families are a happier and safer bunch, but at least you have frames of reference. Why is it so hard for us to accept that maybe we are crippling a life by everyday behaviour we sleep peacefully on? Why do we allow our kids to go to schools we know use physical punishment (illicitly or otherwise). Why is ragging such a massive issue but a little child’s welfare brushed under the carpet. Why are young, underexposed mothers supposed to have all the answers to the most complicated job in the world. Why can’t we just ask someone more often: “How do you think I am doing? Am I doing the right thing? Why not?” The counselors exist. The books exist. And you may not agree with them, but your parents have been there. They can perhaps have something important to say that no-one else will feel is his or her place and which you would normally sock someones jaw for saying.