This week brought in news of a family friend’s unexpected demise and the tragic instance of child sex abuse yet again. Both events disturbed me a lot.
Death is the most natural event to occur in our lives and yet we are never ready to face it. I have mentioned the Sinhas in a number of my posts but two alone stand out in my memory - Canine instincts written when I had just started blogging and a Deepavali post written soon after. Both the pieces were the products of my first year as blogger. We have known the family for nearly 35 years. Our children practically grew up in their house. My son was like a toy in the hands of their sons. They would rush to see him after school and would carry him away to their house from the time he was a month old. Whenever the boys were given new clothes for Durga puja or other special occasions the boys would definitely come over to my place to show me their new dress. How I wish God had been merciful to them. The older of their two sons passed away of renal failure at the age of 31 and their mother never quite recovered from the shock. She lived on without the urge to live and followed the son 8 years later. However, their second son married a very adjusting and accommodating girl and Mrs. Sinha spent the final years of her life with them doting on the granddaughter who she felt was her dead son gifted back to her. Now, it was the turn of Mr. Sinha to pass on. He died of a massive heart attack and it breaks my heart to see the son alone in this world. He is not the kind of street smart guys one sees all over the town and after his father’s unexpected death he did not even know what to do next. It was Mr. Sinha that managed things.
However, this was not the purpose of this post. One thing that worried me was the fact that the family lived in perpetual denial. They never believed that they could fall ill. Bikhu, as the older one was called, was perhaps a case of juvenile diabetes. Mrs. Sinha was obsessed with cleanliness and yet the flush out pan in their toilet would be full of ants. A doctor friend suggested that all four have their urine samples tested and at the age of 18 the older son’s urine had sugar not in traces but in excess amounts. Kidney failure had set in. The family kept fooling themselves that all was fine. Diet control was never seriously considered and the boy lost his life thirteen years later.
Mrs. Sinha too was perhaps diabetic but she also waited till her kidneys began to fail before opting for treatment. By then she had lost her first born as well as her desire to live. Mr. Sinha had a massive heart attack soon after the son’s death. He was obese and the doctor had recommended weight control and change in life style/food habits. Mrs. Sinha’s notion of treating a heart patient was indeed weird. He needs good food she would insist. Chicken soup was okay but she would give him chicken fry and scold her daughter in law if she objected. You will starve him to death – she’d scream. Every time I enquired after his health Mr. Sinha would say that he was fine. He never went for regular check ups saying that doctors would unnecessarily ask for tests to be done even if there was no need. From a week before his death he had mild chest pain. Given the medical history of a previous attack he ought to have gone for a check up. He passed it off to gas problem and tried home remedies. Unfortunately he did not survive a second attack.
After the age of 50 one has to be prepared for degeneration of the system and take the necessary precaution. Given the history of diabetes in the family I have advised their son to monitor his blood sugar levels. I hope he takes my words seriously. With two little girls and a wife to support he cannot afford to be indifferent the way his parents were.
The other case of child sex abuse took place in our complex and the victim was a little girl of about 8 years in age studying in class III. The abuser was a class mate’s father. As per an arrangement with him, the girl’s father would drop his own daughter and the abuser's son studying in the same class at school and the boy’s father would bring them home. This was a recent arrangement that was initially a temporary one during the exams and was continued since it appeared to suit the two families. The man in question would delay bringing the girl home saying that his milkman arrived around the time and would go away if the house was locked. He’d send his own son away to ride a newly purchased bicycle and with his wife away at work he’d have the house to himself. He initially tried getting familiar with the child and threatened her of dire consequences if she told anyone about it. After a few days he forced her to drink some foul smelling stuff saying it was orange juice (perhaps alcohol) and forced her to have oral sex. He also tried fingering her privates. The child was petrified but just told the mother that she did not want ‘uncle’ to bring her home. That very night she woke up with a start and started screaming incoherently and all that the mother understood was that she wished to be saved from ‘uncle’ for whatever reason. The child’s father had left for Calcutta in the evening and was to be away for the week end. The mother called the watchman and took the child to a doctor in the complex around midnight. The girl was weeping profusely and shaking as if she had convulsions. She would not let the doctor touch her. His wife however coaxed the entire story out of the child and was stunned that such an incidence could have happened. The mother was initially shocked but around 6 the next morning she informed a women’s organization that swung into action and by 10 in the morning the abuser was behind bars. The DSP took special interest and assured the family of immediate action. The mother supposedly slippered the man right in front of the station in charge of the police station. The father came back immediately and when I met him in the evening he said that he must have received at least a hundred calls asking him to withdraw the case. I now hear that he has indeed withdrawn the case though I do not know for sure. Even if he has(there could have been some compulsion that we do not know of) I appreciate the quick action taken by the women’s organization and police.
The two are unrelated incidents but had to be shared. The world needs to know that it could be one among us who’d be the next victim and caution - whether in the case of health or in the trust one places on a neighbor- will not hurt.