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Suffer The Little Children

March 17, 2009

Y’all white folks is crazy.

I saw a kid, young enough to still be struggling with the more nuanced aspects of walking un-aided, throw the mother of all tantrums in the aisles of a store. At wit’s end, the hapless mother gave in after displaying a pathetic attempt at authority and delivering some beseechingly face-saving admonitions, allowing the little anti-christ to make off with a bounty of confectionery, a sugar load to no doubt fuel further petulant dictatorial displays in this as yet short, but brutal reign.

Growing up in an Indian household, my dad didn’t play that shit. My brother and I got a measly allowance, which, in consideration of the seemingly endless amount of chores we had to do, was surely in breach of many international statutes concerning child labour. When we went shopping, this allowance (the very existence of which was to be seen as some sort of divine compassionate benevolence, for there was no such thing as allowances in his day…) could be spent on whatever we pleased.

To even contemplate asking for anything above and beyond this, struck us as an exercise in futility, for it would have been met with only a hearty laugh and not even have been dignified with further response. Much less the thought of screaming at the top of our still developing lungs and demonically clutching at whatever bright and shiny packaging caught our impressionable eyes, sacking the store like some 3-foot-high Genghis Khan. For we were under no illusions that throwing such a tantrum, even in a place heavily populated by members of the public (or ‘material witnesses’) would be enough to prevent our dad from unleashing twelve types of whoop-ass on us.

One of the funniest memories my brother and I share was when we went back to India for a holiday. We were out in the city, meandering through the many stalls. One small shop had a parrot in a cage in the store-front, eagerly eyeing passerby for any small morsel of food. A small kid, an Alexander the Great in his own mind, stopped in front of the cage, neck straining upwards as he contemplated the bird, who ignored him with the sagacity of a wizened monk.

Enraged by this failure to pay the appropriate respects to a much-feared conqueror, the little tyke reached upwards and shook the cage for all he was worth. The shopkeeper, homemade reed pipe hanging languidly from the corner of his mouth, ambled over to this screeching commotion, and without missing a puff, clipped the boy around the head before ambling back to his newspaper.

Shocked out of his bloodlust, the boy stood there open mouthed, the comprehension of the outrage he had just suffered slowly beginning to dawn on him. His father, oblivious of this transgression of human rights, continued looking through the hanging wares of the next store, before walking back over to see the aggrieved conqueror balefully rubbing his ear, lost in the richly satisfying reverie of the unspeakable tortures his underlings would no doubt inflict upon this evil shopkeeper.

The father asked him what the matter was. An old man sitting nearby, (India is filled with old men who seem to fulfill no other purpose than merely to be present. It is a physical impossibility to conduct a conversation in public without the appearance out of thin air of an old man who will either nod in knowledgeable approval or else shake his head in dismissive disagreement) and who no doubt had in his many years smacked countless legions of young terrors himself, gave the father a quick rundown of the pertinent facts.

Whereupon, (and to the gleefully unrestrained approval and amusement of my brother and I) the dad proceeded to give the young fella a clip on the other side of his head. I’ll never forget the sight of that kid, a deposed monarch in short pants, rubbing both his ears and ruefully cogitating on the many and varied injustices of this world.

I can’t really see that happening here. Not only due to the glaring lack of parrots in Coles and Woolies, but more so the permissive standards of a contemporary society that will allow itself to be taken hostage by unruly nappy-clad Napoleons. I can’t really see the earsplitting wails of a hissy-fit bringing a checkout guy vaulting over his counter yelling “Read my name-badge, you caterwauling spawn of Lucifer, for I am Joel the Unmerciful, and if you don’t put that packet of Jellybeans back on the shelf and repent, I swear by all that is holy that I will bring down the divine wrath of righteous justice upon thine bratty head, for you are in Coles, and such insolence we tolerate not!”

Because the chances of that occurring are minimal at best, it is up to us to not merely roll our eyes and shake our heads disapprovingly at the woefully substandard parenting of others as they fail to control their little Nero or Emelda in public, but to take immediate action to eliminate these acts of juvenile terrorism.

A crisp clip around the ears, a firm smack to the bottom, a swiftly delivered roundhouse kick to the face, an expertly executed Special Forces choke-hold, a spinning hurricane of whirling nunchukus, whatever it takes… It’s for their own good, and it will hurt us more than it hurts them.


viva minutiae,


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