I come from a large middle class Indian family, comprising my retired father, my homemaker mother, myself, my wife and son and my younger brother and his wife. We all initially settled in a suburb of Kolkata. Both my wife and my brother’s wife were homemakers too, while I worked as a marketing professional and my brother taught in a local school.
My seven-year old son, being the only child in the family, was pampered a great deal by his grandparents. My wife was not happy with this pampering, believing it was spoiling him.
She herself was in favour of a strict upbringing and exercising absolute control. However, the intervention of my parents meant she was being continually undermined in this respect. This caused a great deal of tension, as you might imagine, and my wife began to urge me to get a new job elsewhere so she could be independent in her authority.
Fortunately, I eventually got a job offer from another marketing company at the other end of the country, in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. Eager to avoid a serious rift in family relations, I accepted it. After some weeks in that city, my wife and son joined me. My son was admitted to a Christian missionary school, where there was strict discipline, which made my wife even happier.
So at last our boy was being brought up at home under the strict surveillance of his mother. She slowly started exercising her authority and began to introduce corporal punishment in the event of any behavioural or academic failings. When our son turned eight, she introduced a 3ft long flexible rattan cane to his punishment regime.
She used to regularly sit with him in the evening to help him in his studies and quiz him, with the cane ready by her side. I would watch as, when the boy made a mistake or stumbled under her questioning, she would stare at him sternly with her eyes widening and her nostrils flaring. This would often be enough to make him concentrate better, for fear of a thrashing with the cane.
When my wife decided that a caning was necessary, she would whip our child on his legs, his thighs and the palms of his hands. The cane would leave red parallel lines, which would eventually turn into raised welts. These marks of chastisement would be prominently visible for the next couple of days.
So, as you can see, my wife was an extremely strict mother – but she would also a caring one too. After our son had been whipped, at night she would apply ointments on the affected areas of his body to quicken the healing process.
She continued with this mode of discipline until our boy turned 16. During those seven to eight years when the cane was in use, my wife replaced the implement many times. This would happen whenever she observed any splinter or frayed end, to avoid any serious bodily injury. Finding a replacement was always simple enough – here in Thiruvananthapuram, rattan canes are sold openly in local stores and most households here have a cane for disciplining their young children.
My son is now a young man of 20, pursuing an engineering course at a high-ranking college. Whenever he comes home during vacations, it is always a delight for me to observe the bonding between mother and son. I salute my wife for being so strict, yet so caring towards her son.