(A recent incident involving one of my student prompted me to bring the following sequence of events to light.)
There was this quiet boy in my class. He never spoke much. He used to walk with me to school as he stayed close to my house. He was an above average student. I liked him and over the years we had become friends. The year was 1978. I was in the 7th std. One day, we missed him on our way back from school. As dusk settled down, his mother came to my house accompanied by my friend. I could make out that he was in pain. His face announced that he had cried. I put my hand on his shoulder and he winced in pain. I was unsettled, where could he have gone? His mother quietly removed his shirt and made him show us his back. There were welt marks on his skinny back. He had been beaten with a thin reed, popularly called ‘nagara bethha’. Amidst sobs he told me that the Headmaster had beaten him. He was playing in the sandpit. It was a bit late in the evening to be playing. So the headmaster had walloped him. His eyes pleaded with me. “Tell my mother. She doesn’t believe me”. I turned round and told all present that we had this monster of a Headmaster. He loved beating students; just like that. My mother was sympathetic; but his mother wasn’t. Later we came to know; that night she beat him with a belt. She wasn’t willing to buy his sand pit story.
The year was 2004. I was at IIMK. My mother called me up. She had some disturbing news. The innocent boy, whom I had referred to above, had been arrested by police for drug trafficking. His mug shot, holding a slate, had been posted on all local newspapers.
Ever since that horrible evening in 1978, my friend had changed. From a quiet honest lad, he transformed into a ruffian and by the time we were 17 years old he had turned into a druggie and a drunk. Later on he was to reform. But that was for a short time. One fine day he fell of the precipice into an abyss of misery.
In 1984, we made a startling discovery. The headmaster who had beaten my friend was a homosexual. He took perverse pleasure in beating boys. From headmaster, he was made a warden of a young boys hostel. It was a ‘befitting’ reward for the rogue. His case came to light when a college student accused him of lewd behaviour. Then on he slipped into oblivion. Did I mention that he was a priest?
A homosexual and a mother lacking in trust had transformed a helpless twelve year old lad playing in a sand pit into a druggie, a drunk and finally into an accused in a drug peddling case.
What crime? What punishment?