This is the month of my birthday. Parades, marches, speeches, celebrations, congratulations are in order. A particularly nice time of the year in my household, too, when temperature drops to a level that allows balmy joviality to set in. All get a well-deserved reprieve, albeit temporary, from incessant load-shedding. Along with the winter harvest, festoons, banners, flags and photographs of my golden children decorate cities and villages alike. Patriotic songs echo aloud out of loudspeakers and people lift their chests just a bit more. Indeed, it is a great pleasure to see my children happy, enthusiastic and proud. Only a mother knows how good it feels to see her children well and having fun.
Yet I cannot be as happy as they are. Something is eating at me and I must come to terms with it. It is the crimes. Crimes of my children and crimes within my family. I am ashamed to name things by their names but a remedy is harder to imagine without a proper identification.
Horrific and harrowing incidents gripped my family this year, they cannot be real. With each occurrence, it felt as if I was stabbing my own children. As if I am one of those species which eats its own offspring.
I am hurting. I no longer have any control over my children. They no longer know what they are doing. How else can I explain harming one’s own siblings, one’s own flesh and blood. They are not themselves anymore.
Forty years ago, I thought we were going to be a happy family. Together, we would look after each other, we would help each other to an unprecedented prosperity. Dreams. Funny things they are, and as I shudder awake into reality, I see despicable cruelty: a passerby bashed to death in front of an audience, helpless workers locked away to burn, places of worship destroyed with vehemence, individuals abducted without any trace. The list is intolerably long.
No one has been punished for these crimes. As yet. And I do not expect it. Nor can I expect this violence to cease in the near future. How can I celebrate with such a heavy heart? It is difficult not to sympathise with my children who are in charge of law enforcement agencies or the judiciary. They cannot carry out their duties impartially. Their hands are tied and at times they are obliged to be mere bystanders.
As I weep secretly for the poorer and weaker of my children, I wonder how do they cope with so much injustice and torture? What is their fault? Inside me I wail, they are the ones who sacrifice and toil for my lifeblood as the indicators measuring my health slowly notch up. I wish they had more opportunity to share my resources. I wish they were given more chances of education or better medical treatment. I wish my privileged children cared more about the less privileged ones.
I taught my children what I believed were good things. I asked them always to be tolerant of each other’s views. I wanted our family to be the model of friendly co-operation where all views and ideologies were tolerated. I never wished or anticipated endless quibbling between my leader-children. They were to lead their siblings, with fairness, transparency and without bias. They were not to be unfairly greedy, let alone selfish, self-interested, corrupt or grabby.
Leaders, they all have been; and they have had their opportunity to show their prowess and capacity. And there will be future opportunities. So why are they so implacable – fighting, plotting, conspiring and strategizing against each other, indulging in bigotry as though there is no tomorrow. I fail to fathom.
I had a bloody birth. Naturally I panic and get distressed when I sense blood. I am nervous to notice that blood boils again within my leader-children’s veins, as I am familiar with its consequence, the tragedy and suffering it brings for innocent ones. Continued bickering holds up my natural progress, and it has made living unbearable for others. It is the source of substantial slippage and enormous erosion in law and order.
Parts of my grief are worse than others. Anyone can have enemies. I have some. These sons of my soil betrayed me from the beginning. They never accepted me as their mother. I have been eager to confront them. But due to unforeseen, unthinkable and unbelievable events, the proceedings to query and take account of their dealings are in shambles. Who do I blame for the kerfuffle? Rather than observing closure to these betrayers’ ideologies, I am left to see them spread to some of my younger children.
Many of my children are nonetheless exceptionally good. They make me genuinely proud and give me strength to go on. They are my solace. A lot of them are working tirelessly to resuscitate my morale.
I have had high hopes for my children. As any mother would, I expected them to have boundless success. But on the eve of my 41st birthday, I worry most for future generations. Young and full of potential, they are being mercilessly destroyed (like that passerby who was only 24 years of age), forced to be victims of collateral damage. I ponder and ponder: whose fault is it?