Saturday, May 2, 2009

Get tough, not rude...

Have you ever bullied someone? In the school fields? In the school bus, some junior at college? These were how my thoughts went as I lay with a book last night. I kept going back and forth the cobwebbed corridors of my memory, but could not cite up even one incident, where I had bullied someone. I got up, drank some water, and went to my daughter's room, she was awake still, reading a book. I asked her,"Have you ever been bullied at school?" The question was such because I cannot fathom her bullying even an ant to go the other way. She said, "Not exactly bullied mamma, but many a times I have had to do things which I didn't like because some senior asked me to in a stern voice.. Well that's not exactly bullying, now is it mamma?"

"No it isn't dear", I said and walked back to my bed. I have seen bullying and have always felt that the bullies were themselves insecure. Strong bodies, insecure souls. Why else would you gang up against a poor kid going home from school and snatch his bicycle and make him race you, knowing very well that there is no competition. Why would you threaten a small, frail boy to fist fights and blows, unless he did your homework for you. Why take away the spectacles from a kid and play 'catch' with it. I have never seen any mirth in any of these actions, have stood up quite a few times against them when in school. Though in later years, I have ignored many such instances that have crossed my vision due to inexcusable reasons like apathy or hurry.

I have also wondered at my son's behaviour time and again, his bullying nature towards his sister, who is three years older to him has caused a lot of reactions at home. Initially I thought that aggression was part of his nature, but on going to his school and meeting his teachers, I found that he is the most shy and least aggressive boy in class. Therein I found my answer.. In an eureka moment it was clear to me. The actions of my son and the various other bullies. Yes they chose their victims with utter care, only the ones that are weaker temperamentally and physically are bullied. In the presence of a stronger or equal opposition the bullies keep low. yes that was there insecurity, bullying was there feel good factor. An insecure day at school, a ridicule, or even getting bullied himself, could well be the reason of my son's actions towards his sister. That made me wonder, If I was right in taking the side of the apparent victim of a bullying session.. maybe I should have showered attention on the bully instead, maybe he was as frightened and desperate not to show. We were all kids after all and no kid can be framed.. he has a long road to travel.

By this time it was pretty late, and I kept worrying that if I didn't sleep now, I would invariably be late for waking my kids in the morning for school. And just as I was trying to count mental sheep to initiate the process of sleep, did I see myself bullying. Yes, I was a bully too, I who prided my self as being the most non violent person, time and again bullied coolies and rickshaw wallahs, for petty sums. I shouted and screamed at railways stations for a discount of 10 or 20 rupees. I haggled mercilessly with auto wallahs for what? the fun of it? I was so awake and so upright on the bed that moment. I had chosen my victim well too. I never dare to haggle at the fancy showrooms with their goods displayed with obnoxious price tags. Why? Because I feel powerless in that atmosphere. But a poor coolie whom if I pay an extra 10 rupee would probably bless me and my family, with him I am rude and insensitive. Under what, I thought till that moment was, standing up for my rights.. I was in fact bullying a fellow countryman.

Well needless to say, sleep did not come for the rest of the night.. and I finished the book I had started.