Friday, 21 December 2012

Que Sera Sera

A week before school closed for the Christmas break, my son forgot his newest and best jacket in school.Summer in Nairobi merits a jacket in the morning as it is quite cold. Usually things that are left behind in school find their way to the lost property, so I was not overly concerned and asked him to be sure to get it back with him the next day. But he was unable to find it despite a couple of trips to the school office to check.When I went to school to volunteer for one of the three parties that his class had before they closed, I, too, searched high and low for it. My husband had bought it on his last trip to South Africa and it really was a beautiful jacket and warm to boot.But I had no luck either and we were forced to conclude that someone had helped himself to it.
I did not scold my son but I exhorted him to be more careful with his things in future. I was a bit upset but I hoped that it had been taken by someone whose child really needed a warm jacket and did not own one, unlike my son who is fortunate enough to have five jackets and numerous sweaters, besides.And so the last day of school,Friday 14th December, dawned and I waited eagerly for my children to come home.It was a half day and my daughter called up to ask if she could get her friend home for lunch. I agreed, as long as the girl had her own mother's permission to be dropped off at our house instead of her own.
My daughter's classmate is Chinese but she liked all the Indian food that I served for lunch except the custard, which, anyway is a pudding the Kolonialists taught us to eat, so I did not mind in the least!Then the girls began to surf the net (under my watchful eye,of course!) and soon they were exclaiming over which glittery purse or high heeled shoes or designer hand bags each one would want to buy the minute they began earning! One teenager was Indian, the other Chinese, each representing countries both of which are slated to be the next super powers, studying in a school which comes under the system of the current super power, the United States Of America. I looked at them and thought what the future held for each child. Both looked so different from each other and yet were so similar as children are, all over the world... Their countries could become super powers on the sheer strength of their burgeoning populations and the popularity of their take away food alone! As I listened to them discuss their exam marks which had just been handed over that day I was amused. Both girls solemnly agreed that anything less than a ninety four percent was akin to failing the subject! For the record, neither had 'failed' according to their own set standards! Being an Indian mother I know how marks oriented we are and having bought and read the Battle Hymn Of the Tiger Mother I had an inkling of the Chinese system too!But even I thought this was carrying things too far, even as a joke! I did not say anything but idly speculated over their futures in my mind. Any mother will readily admit to trying, at times, to guess what the future holds for her children and their counterparts.Que sera the famous song goes-whatever will be will be,the future's not ours to see...
Come night and I tucked my son  into bed after a short argument as he wanted to read just 'one' chapter more from his story book but I felt it was time to turn off the lights! The day was over for me. I logged in to my face book account, replied to the comments people had put on my status which said 'the joys of Elementary school versus the reality of High school', which referred to exams for high school students and parties for elementary babies and then I signed off.Little did I know then how tragic 'joy' in Elementary school had become that very day... It was time to tune in to the Indian news channel on television as I like to keep pace with all that is happening in my country.And then time stood still for me.
All the news channels were focused only on one news item -the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.How such a thing could happen, why it should happen was something beyond anyone's comprehension. One sentence that I heard, as soon as I put on the news, stands out in my mind. One of the teachers who was in the school during the incident was quoted as telling the children while rushing them to safety,' just move out,leave everything behind, including your jackets.It does NOT matter.' How glad I was that I had not taken my son to task over a lost jacket. Sooner or later the jackets of those babies who lost their lives that day will be taken from their classrooms, tagged,bagged and returned to the grieving  parents...These parents will never have the pleasure of tucking that child snugly into bed, never try to imagine what the future will bring for that lost innocent soul because, thanks to free access to guns and a disturbed mind that escaped notice, there is no que sera sera for these children.In the song, the child asks his mother, ' Will I be handsome,will I be rich?' Now it seems, children, not just in the States but the world over need to ask 'Will I live? To see teenage and adulthood?'Whatever was to have been in the lives of those six and seven year olds now cannot be.And what has been,should never have been, but for the fact that guns were sold as freely as Christmas  cookies and gun licenses were handed out like Diwali sweets.
I have never been so glad that I come from a country where only law enforcement officials, the armed forces, politicians, the hyper rich, film stars and terrorists have access to guns. Common folks like me cannot even imagine owning a gun, let alone shooting one..If this gory incident does not ensure tight gun control then what else are they waiting for? Honestly, should there even be a debate?

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