Friday June 29, 2012
WHY NOT? BY D.RAJ
A mum loses her child — and many cry for her head. Maybe we should cry for the anguish of a mother who may never be able to forgive herself.
IT must have been the most painful of moments. A teacher suddenly realises that she left her five-year-old in the car – five hours earlier.
She runs, screaming his name, to the car. But she’s too late. The boy is frothing in the mouth. She rushes him to hospital. He’s declared dead.
It’s something I won’t wish on anyone, even an enemy.
Imagine her pain. She’s lost her child. And she knows it’s her fault. The family may feel that way, too. The authorities are investigating her for negligence.
And the recriminations begin, with many pointing fingers, saying she should be penalised.
I would like to differ. Maybe people should be more forgiving of her. Heaven only knows if she would ever be able to forgive herself.
No mother, or father for that matter, could live happily after a mistake like that. It will weigh her down for life. That mum needs a shoulder to cry on, not cries for her to be punished.
The teacher was to have dropped the child at a kindergarten en route to work. But duty called. So, she went to work. And forgot the child.
Until that frightful moment when she remembered.
It happens – even to the best of us. People forget.
Earlier this month, British Prime Minister David Cameron forgot his eight-year-old daughter and left her in a pub after a Sunday afternoon visit.
And it was just days after the British government had started a programme to give young parents courses on how to take care of their children.
Cameron and his wife had both thought the child was with the other person. An honest mistake?
Then, there was the case of the parents who drove their car – with a caravan in tow – to a Swiss petrol station, filled up and drove off, not knowing that the son had got off the caravan and was in the service station.
They realised he was missing 20 minutes later, turned around and promptly got lost. It was two hours before they finally got back to the petrol station where the boy was chatting with the service station staff, confident his parents would return for him.
Yes, there are the bad apples.
In April this year, a young mum in the United States left her five-year-old in a vehicle while she went looking for a job at a bar. After making her application, she sat down and knocked back a few tequilas.
The kid? She was spotted and rescued by a passer-by. And the drunk mother, in a bid to escape action, claimed that the child was not hers. Now, that’s irresponsible.
Another guy went into a casino and immersed himself in the gaming machines. His eight-month-old son was all alone in the car for seven hours. He was gambling with his child’s life, too, and that’s just not right.
So, there are honest mistakes and really irresponsible people.
What I would call irresponsible are those people who deliberately put their children at risk, you know, like the guy who seats his baby on his lap while driving his car. That’s silly and could prove fatal – yet, people do it all the time.
Or the parents who stack their kap chai with their half-a-dozen brood – with no helmets. One small mistake and things could go wrong, horribly wrong.
We have also heard of many cases in Malaysia where people have no choice but to be cruel to be kind.
Remember those stories of the desperate parents? A couple locked their children at home while they went looking for work. They needed money to feed the kids.
Others – most of them single parents – had to leave their children behind as they went to work so there could be food on the table.
You cannot really blame these people.
When these stories came out, there was much talk of crèches and flexi-hours and how employers and the Government should rally to help these parents who have to work. As usual, it’s all forgotten now.
We forget only too easily.
Days ago, there was this letter to the editor in The Star. It spoke of a crying child who was desperately trying to wake her father.
The man was sloshed to the gills on some cheap samsu and had soiled himself. The poor child sat by him as the world watched, disgusted.
There’s a guy who deserved to be locked up – in a rehab centre.
> The Child Act says parents are responsible for their children until the age of 18. But justice, it is said, must be tempered with mercy.