Thursday, February 24, 2011


The examinations were finally over and the vacations had begun. Sahir and his friend Kyle were playing at the community park one evening. It was a lovely summer day; the sun stayed longer in the sky to watch the two friends enjoy their holiday together. The gulmohar tree was in full blossom, its flowers strewn thickly along the garden path, like a red carpet for cine stars at the IFFI. The park was full of children, celebrating the commencing of the summer vacations with gusto. Sahir’s mother sat on a bench, close to the playground area, keeping a close watch on her son. Kyle’s mother, who was expecting a third child, sat next to her, her hands swiftly working the knitting needles as she chatted non-stop.
The two boys took turns at the swing, then ran to climb the rungs of the slide ladder. WOOOSH! They slid down the slippery slide one by one, then ran back to have another go at it. Sahir turned to wave at his mother. He saw her listening intently to Kyle’s mom, her face expressing shock at something the other woman was saying. From time to time, she nodded her head but spoke very little.
Play over, the two boys left the park with their moms. As they neared the building where they both lived, Kyle’s mother said, “Asha, think about what I said, will you? One must decide with wisdom about these things, you know.”
When Sahir’s dad came home from work, his wife gave him a steaming cup of tea with a plateful of spicy pakodas, then told Sahir to go up to his room. Sahir was curious! What was the secret all about, he wondered. First, Aunty Martha, now his Dad! Why didn’t his mother want him to hear what was being said? He decided to eavesdrop. Quietly, he tiptoed down towards his parents’ bedroom and listened with his ear to the keyhole.
“Ashu, why are you upset? It is time we planned anyway. Martha is right, we need to do this now before it is too late.” he heard his father reason. “But I am not sure I want to go through this now. My promotion is due at the office. I may never get a golden opportunity like this again. Can we not wait?” His mother sounded disturbed as she pleaded with her husband. There was a moment’s silence, followed by a muffled sob.
Sahir could not bear the suspense any longer. He burst into the room, ran to his mother and, hugging her around the waist, he cried, “Mama, don’t cry. I don’t want you to cry. Dad, make her happy again. Don’t make her cry.” His mother looked perplexed at the little boy’s agitation. His father sat him on the bed, calmed him down and then announced, “Sahir, we want you to have a new baby. Maybe a brother, but it could be a sister too. That is all we were talking about. Well, what do you say?”
Sahir could not contain his excitement. A BABY! A NEW BABY! WHOOPEE! He ran all around the room, cheering in delight and kissed his mother’s hand. “Mama, my prayers are answered at last! How I wished and wished for a brother, or even a sister, to play with. God takes a long time to answer prayers, doesn’t he? But he is going to give me my wish in the end. Oh, thank you mama. I will take good care of you. I will help you in the kitchen, water the plants for you, even massage your feet when you are tired.” Saying this, Sahir kissed his mother again and danced out of the room, all eager to make plans for the new arrival.
In the bedroom, his mother looked at her husband with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t know, Ji. I was being selfish, I realize that now. How can I put a job before my own son? What is the use of my promotion if it won’t make Sahir happy?” Her husband reached out for her as she continued, “I will have to tell the boss tomorrow itself so he can choose someone else. If God wills it, I may get another chance at a promotion, but right now, my family comes first. Martha was right as always.” She held her husband’s hand as she rested her head on his shoulder.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Laws uphold the truth? Questionable. Time and time again, history has proven that laws alone do not uphold the truth. The recent news that pre-teen petting is to go legal is something every mature adult will agree that, like homosexuality, once made legal, will give immature and immoral people the license to create an environment that may not have existed before. Its like saying schizophrenia is OK just because it has been made legal.

The moot question is: why do teenagers indulge in such practices? One, perhaps, because parents cease to physically affirm them by a loving touch, a hug or just cuddling them like they instinctively did to them as kids. Second, their minds are experiencing emotional turmoil as the body matures physically and sensations they never felt before scares and excites them all at the same time.

This is the time when parents must educate and reassure their children about the facts, not an impersonal sex educator in school or an absurd law that does not foresee that such petting leads to sexual intercourse, which protected by unreliable contraception eventually leads to abortion, which, by the way, has already been made legal. It is a straight pathway to destruction and death. The moral downslide is inevitable. America is awakening to this bitter fact, are we to go their way before we too realize the pitfalls of passively aping them?

And whoever said that this has no repercussions on society? To say it is my business to have sex and that it does not affect anyone is utter rubbish. After every broken relationship, which uses sex as its pivot for survival, there is heartbreak and hatred. The partner rejected becomes bitter and may even give up on life altogether. Abortion is not a rosy dream as it has been portrayed. (I recently watched a testimony of a mother whose daughter had a botched abortion, went into a coma and is now bedridden for life. Not only was her life destroyed but the whole family lives a nightmare, wishing things had been done differently. And the abortionist still practices without fear.)

I think the statement Dr. N. Kamat made about social community counseling seems like a sound alternative, provided it is not another form of ‘safe sex’ drive. What our youngsters need is to learn how to be chaste before and after marriage. Safe sex only leads to promiscuity and infidelity.

The Catholic Church offers counseling to hurting marriages on the brink of separation or divorce and marriages that just need finishing touches to make them more fruitful are given guidance and counseling at Marriage Encounter Weekends, engaged couples are counseled through a programme called Engaged Encounter and follow-up is done on a regular basis. There is also an ongoing programme to train couples in Natural Family Planning conducted by the Couple to Couple League. These programmes are for all, irrespective of religion and individual counseling can also be availed of at the Family Centre in Panjim. Unfortunately, people do not avail of these programmes until things really spiral out of control and then too they will rather revel in self-pity and give up on their marriages than try to make things work.

Coming back to pre-teens, the family center needs to put into place its own sex education programme in schools covering areas like awareness of one’s body and how it must be taken care of by abstinence before marriage and chastity after in order to have proper respect for life.

Personally, I recall that, for lack of such sound teaching by my parents and being exposed to wrong education from the media and friends, my teen years did go awry. And I regret those episodes with all my heart. As a mother of a teenage son, I constantly talk to him about respect for life and chastity, and encourage him to educate his friends as well. As a parent, it is my duty and privilege to do this much for my child and the community we live in.

Can parents of teens pull up their socks and do the right thing for your child? Do we need a law to take away our rights and responsibilities as loving protectors of our children? Are we ourselves giving good example by our own fidelity and responsibility to our spouses and children? These are the questions that must be answered and acted upon. I rest my case.