Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The stick that was falling on me

The Sun was going down and cold breeze was caressing my cheeks as we climbed the stairs to the monastery in Bhutan.

 It was evening, my prayer time at home and I was slipping into the bhakti mode. We got inside, I closed my eyes and started slowly slipping into the world of nothingness. Suddenly I was jerked out of my state by the sound of a beating and soft cry of a boy.

A heart rending sight

My eyes opened automatically and I looked around. Just outside the prayer area, a Buddhist monk was sitting with a teenage lama boy, who was reading his lesson. As he read, the pronunciation was wrong and he got a beating with a long stick from the monk (the sound that startled me), before correcting his pronunciation.

I closed my eyes and again tried to get into the peaceful state. But no, it was not supposed to be. Because the boy continued to read and was making mistakes. Each mistake brought a beating from the monk and many times he was hitting on his shaven head. When the boy put his hand on the head for protection, he got the beating on his back.

Transported to my childhood

I felt that each strike by that stick was coming over my body. My eyes were welling up and my throat getting choked. When I was about three years old, my mother started teaching me Malayalam alphabets. One day she asked me to write the Malayalam letter  'ദ '(Da). I was not in the best of spirits at the time and thought, “This is a very easy letter and I know it. So I am not going to write.’

My mother got angry and told again. I just kept quiet. She took a small stick and beat me. Still I didn’t write. She really got angry. She was a school teacher and a very good disciplinarian. It was not easy for her to take this behavior from her own daughter. She continued asking me to write, I simply didn’t move and she kept beating me. Our maid who was standing there tried to save me from the beating and in the bargain, she got beaten.

A good decision

When she couldn’t make me write the letter, she made a decision, ‘I am not going to teach you  again, ever.’ I think that was a good decision. I was a self-motivated child and did my studies well. Continuous beating would have scarred me for life. She asked me later why I didn’t write the letter. I told, ‘It is such a simple letter and you should have understood that I know it.’

Both of us took the lesson and progressed in our own ways. After that many times she used to ask me, ‘Write the letter for which you got thrashing’, and I would promptly write and show her.

Beatings from a monk?

Every time the stick fell on that lama boy, I was flinching. A monk, who is supposed to be the epitome of non-violence (according to me), doing this violence to a small boy was beyond me to take in. By the time we came out, the tuition was over and I was terrified to look at the monk’s face which reeked of violence.

 And the boy was standing there and wiping his tears!

It was time to close the praying area for the day and every body left.

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