“Say the truth and take the conse- quences! Jesus did it and was crucified!”
For me it was more a weakness than a virtue, not to say a lie! As a teen-ager I used to see my father smoking beedy! Curiosity promted me to taste and see!
So I picked up what he threw out & tried! My mother saw it and reported to Father. He called me and asked, if I smoked. Promtly I said, I did! He asked again, if I would do it again. I said joyully, I would.
Bang, came a sharp slap on my face! I got wonder-struck! Slap for being honest? If father did it, it could never be wrong for me, was my thinking, but mistaken! Children should not smoke, was the lesson, I never understood.
It was to this father I had promised when I left home at 18, to become a missionary in far off Assam. For that I renounced my share of property to be distributed to my remaining 3 brothers (I didn’t even know how much I had) and would never come back to lay claim to it! But against all expectations, I had to come back but never claimed for any share.
In spite of it, my father asked my brothers to share with me the propery already distributed to them and they did it generosuly, making me equal to them – something that never happens in most families! For me it was a miracle of Paternal generosity and brotherly sharing, hard to believe! It did happen in my family – too long a story to narrate, so I leave it!
The point discussed here is beedy-smoking! My father was a master in controlling his habit – giving up at will and taking up when he chooses! So he used to ask me when I came back from priestly life, if I had a beedi to spare and I always obliged gladly my father who had once slapped me on face as a teen-ager!
As a priest I used to smoke cigarets occasionally, but gave it up totally after leaving priesthood and took to “beedi” to become an ordinary literally! My father, a man of few words but more thoughts, shines for me as a model for treating equals justily!
This time I did it to my son in Kindergarden, in a fit of fury! I used to take him on scooter to school and back. One day back from school, he called his eldest 10-year older sister “Bitch, Pig etc”, dirty words never ever uttered in the house! Out came my fury and I slapped him in the face. It turned the whole house in turmoil and I was dubfounded with utter shame on reflection!
Where could have my son picked up those dirty words? Sure, in the Kindegarden of the Sisters, I concluded! “Not there!” the Sisters protested! “Then where?” I was restless until I found it out.
There ued to an exemplary elderly Paperman, a Hindu, who used to bring morning papers gently, gentlemanly and place the paper softly on my door steps! Other unruly kids used to thow it to my door which I had to search and find out in bad shape! So I used to look forward to this old man daily like the arrival of an angel with Good News! To show my appreciation for it I visited seveal times his small house near by!
On one visit those days, he complained bitterly, how his elderly son was totally against disciplining his children even when they uttered dirty, abusive words like “Bitch or Pig” at random. “Children should be given total freedom to say and do what they feel like to grow up as mature humans”, was his theory and that son was classmate and hero of my son in his class! That solved all my “Mystery search!”
Who is the culprit in this mystery? I could pin point none! But was reminded of the English provrb: “Spare the rod and spoil the child!” The ‘rod’ has an educative role in all families! Reluctantly though, I used it in my family, even though I still feel ashamed of having slaped my son in a fit of fury!
This tme it was my son’s turn! One of my grand daughter in US was being brought up in Thammanam for a year, to help her mother complete a course in US! The child was well behaved and naughty, as children are! One day my son firmly told her not to repeat a mistake, which she repeated boldly! Out came a sharp slap on her face in my presence, which made her face swollen for days! So dumb founded was I, that I could not even protest which makes me feel ashamed even today!
My son also must have felt the same after the fit of fury – ahamed and terribly sorry, but too late!
Now think of the actions of 3 Fathers – my father, myself and my Son – some thing hereditary, beyond one’s control? I have no convincing answer; all three were equally wrong & blame worthy! Even Jesus had to take up a whip and overturn money tables! So even I could not crown him as ideal of nonviolence, but preferred Gandhiji!
“Judge not and you shall not be judged!” is the only thing this “Know-Nothing”, can say of these actions, all unthought of! Therfore, have all of us to live in hope and die in dispaire? If you can, you the more enligh- tened, please answer that question!
NB: I write these fcts in life – facts only in the raw like flesh just cut, oozing blood – only to tell, I was unlucky/lucky to live this long – and if I don’t tell it for listerners to hear it from the mouth of the horse, what it means to live from innocent childhood to this old age, all companons gone, but stll galloping wearly, there will be none to speak/hear! More may be expected as my prayer is not to live even for another day, but from “dawn to dusk only” when the sun shines bright equally for the so-called “good & bad.” james kottoor, editor WCV