My parents met when both were working in India for a well-known multi-national company – he was in marketing and she worked as a receptionist.
I was born four years after they married and naturally my mother left her job to take care of her child. Tragically, my father died in a road accident when I was only seven years old. Obviously this was devastating for my mother and from then on, she concentrated on me as her hope for the future.
Because of the circumstances, Mom had to find a way of supporting us, and her previous company were kind enough to re-employ her in a similar role as before. She eventually got promoted too.
By this time, I had started primary school, but because her job often involved long hours, my mother had to employ a maid both to keep the house in order and to take care of me.
As I had lost my father at a very young age, Mom was very careful about my upbringing. She showered me with her love, but also took charge of my studies at home every evening after coming back from the office.
Mom would check my school diary and help me complete my school. She would also test me on my work and woe betide me if I made a mistake. Just a stern look from my mother was enough to make me improve my efforts.
When I turned 10, I transferred to a local high school, and it was about this time that she took me aside one evening and told me that she was going to be more strict with me from now on, with regard to both my studies and behaviour. “If you are not a good boy and work hard, Mriganka,” she said. “I will be taking the cane to your bottom.”
I was usually a very obedient child, and had only had a few mild slipperings from my mother at that point, so I was very much in awe of this warning, and indeed it was about a whole year before I experienced my first dose of such punishment.
I had failed English in my end of term exams, and I was scared about the consequences when I brought my school report home. Nevertheless, I gave it to my mother, who would have demanded to see it anyway. She looked at it for a while, a frown on her face, but she didn’t yell at me as I had expected.
After some time, she rose from her chair, went into the kitchen and came back with a knife, which she took out into the back yard. There was a guava tree which grew there and my mother cut a slender stem and trimmed it thoroughly with the knife.
Then she came back with the switch in her hand, and you can bet that I was nearly wetting my pants with fear by now. Mom was still calm, but stern, and ordered me to go to my bedroom with her. She locked the door after us so that the maid would not see what was about to happen.
Cane in hand, she turned to me and said: “Mriganka, you are not trying hard enough in school, and I won’t allow your talents to be wasted. From now on, I will make sure you work hard – even at the cost of some pain across your buttocks. Take down your pyjamas and lie down on the bed!”
I did as I was told, now beginning to cry with fear at what was to come. I did have underpants on under my pyjamas, but they were of a V-shaped pattern at the back, so for all intents and purposes I was bare bottomed.
Looking to one side, I watched as my mother flexed the cane to check its pliability, and she swished it a couple of times through the air, a sound which once more had me close to wetting myself, I was so scared.
The fear proved to be well founded. Mom stepped back a little, raised the cane above her shoulder and brought it down forcefully across both my buttocks. The pain was so excruciating that I squealed and cried, and clamped my hands to my bottom.
“Take those hands away now,” my mother ordered, “and if you put them there again, there will be more strokes added. Do you understand?” I managed to mumble an assent through my tears, then Mom gave me three more strokes in quick succession. I was crying like a much younger child with the pain.
After a short pause to let me pull myself together a little, Mom continued the beating until the cane broke in two. I don’t know exactly how many strokes I got in total, but it must have been around a dozen. My buttocks were burning like crazy by the time she had finished with me.
“Go to the bathroom and wash your face, then straight to bed!” she said finally. “This is how it’s going to be from now on, Mriganka – sore bottoms for naughty boys!”
Once in the bathroom, I turned to face the mirror to check the condition of my buttocks – they were covered in criss-cross red lines and welts, and the marks took several days to fade.
Having broken the improvised implement, my mother soon bought a proper rattan cane which my bottom could not break, and hurt and marked a great deal more than the guava switch. I continued to get the cane whenever I committed a mistake or misbehaved, and was beaten fairly regularly until I left home for higher studies.
My mother’s disciplinary system might seemed old-fashioned and cruel to some, but it had the desired effect – today I am 35 and a successful doctor. I’m happily married with two little children, and all my success in life has been due to my mother’s sacrifices and dedication to discipline.