Teach your children well

Many years ago, you could have easily found me on the beaches of Goa, dancing to techno music played by the world’s best DJs.  Herds of party goers would relish in blissful beats that would take us to far off places in our minds.  I know of few experiences that could ever equal the feelings that enveloped me during those nights.  The electrifying music, the smiling people, the stunning scenery, the perfect weather….. all leading to a feeling of Ultimate Freedom.

But it was not real, far from it.   Behind the fantasy created for the Ravers each night, there lay a world bound by greed and sadness.  And one morning I had the opportunity to witness the stark contrast between these 2 worlds.

As the sun was rising on a brilliant party, my house mate came running towards me in a state of panic. We had been robbed, burgled!  He hurried all house members (10 of us) back to the property to check what had been stolen.

Approaching the scene of the crime, we spotted 5 kids running away in the hills behind the house, hands full of western equipment.  Our property.  My friends dashed after the culprits who managed to get away…….all but one.

He was no more than 12 years old, his face that of a petrified child.   Some of the guys pinned him down to the ground and started shouting at him……‘WHERE IS MY STUFF?! GIVE IT BACK TO ME!’  But the child couldn’t, or wouldn’t, respond.  His English was limited and so he kept repeating the same phrase over again:

Please Baba

When the aggressive shouting didn’t work, my friends turned to violence.

They kicked him… ‘where’s my stuff’

He said: Please Baba  But his eyes said: please don’t hurt me, I was told to do it, I didn’t have a choice.

Next they punched him…’where is my camera mate?!’

He said: Please Baba.  His eyes said:  If I tell you, they will surely kill me.  I would rather be beaten by you.

The child was screaming but not talking.  Soon the news reached the local people who arrived at the scene imminently, demanding an explanation.   We explained both the crime and the punishment.  The locals nodded, and said they would take if from here.

I felt so relieved…..but not for long.

They walked the child to the closest tree, tied him up firmly and started bashing him repeatedly on the knees.  ‘Where are their Walkman’s? Where is their cash?’

The boy said: Please Baba.  His eyes said:  you know why I can’t tell you.

Next, they put him into a water well basket….. and slowly lowered him down into darkness.  ‘Speak child, tell us where the sunglasses are’

No words came out of his mouth.

They pulled him up from the well, stripped him down naked and paraded him down the street in order to shame him.   The child was half conscious and could no longer walk.  He was bleeding everywhere and crying silently.  But he would not talk, he never did.

It has been 20 years since I witnessed this event, and not too many days pass without thinking about it.  That day crystallised the lessons I had to teach my child:

  • Never cause harm to a living being for the sake of material wealth.
  • The only lesson that beating can teach is that violence is OK
  • Human life has so much more value than all the camera’s and sunglasses in the world.

20 years ago I realised that it is too late for my generation to change.  But our children can learn.  Please do teach your children well.

Thank you for reading,