“Pim pim”. The horn of a car sounded.
He went to the garage and asked the boys “Who touched the horn of the car?”
The boys looked at each other confused. They had been playing hide and seek round the car that had just been bought for their mum.
“We did not touch the horn”. They chorused.
“One of you touched the horn of the car”. He insisted.
“We did not press the horn, daddy”.
“Get me my belt”. He called out to the maid.
The maid ran quickly to get the belt before she fell on the wrong side as well.
He wrapped the belt round his hand and asked the same question again but their responses remained the same.
He whipped the elder of the two with the belt and asked “Why are you lying?”
“I am not lying, daddy. I did not press the horn”. He cried.
He got whipped continuously as he cried and insisted that he did not press the horn of the car.
His tears and pleading fell on deaf ears. His father continued whipping him as the belt tore into his skin.
Three people stood afar with tears in their eyes. The maid, his younger brother and his elder sister. They knew until he accepted that he committed the deed, he wasn’t going to be let alone.
His mum tried to stop the beating but who was she to stop her husband from disciplining his son. The look on his face told her better and she stepped back.
“It is okay”. She said when she could not bear it any more.
The lashing continued all the same.
The boy cried so much he started coughing. “I pressed the horn, daddy. I pressed the horn”.
The beating stopped immediately.
He would later confess to his siblings and the maid that he did not press the horn but he had to lie that he did.
The maid applied a salve to his wounds. The belt had cut his skin in so many places.
The house was situated on a cul-de-sac and all cars made a U-turn right in front of the house. The honk heard could have been from any car passing on the street.
Did the ten year old boy lie about touching the horn of the newly acquired car? Did a car passing by their house honk at that particular time? No one knows till date.
Could there have been a better way to discipline the boy? Was the thrashing justifiable? Was the boy’s loss of self-confidence worth the value of the car?
Where exactly do you draw the line between discipline and child abuse?
I leave the judgement to you.
“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.”
- Haim Ginott, Child psychologist
“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.”
- Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States