Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Vulture’s Prey

“I worshipped Baba with an intensity approaching the religious. But right then, I wished I could open my veins and drain his cursed blood from my body.”

The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

He came inside the room with his head hung low, trailing his mother. He is applying to be a Grade 5 transferee. His report card, hand carried by his mother indicated that he will be a repeater. He is 14-yr. old and his body language speaks of shame and sadness. He seems surrendered to any chance he could have to be in a new school.

I informed his mother to be back after an hour of interview and admission testing. She said she will stay in the room. I reiterated that as a testing procedure, she must leave her son. She was still sitting on the couch, gazing at me as if telling me why she is reluctant to step out. I met her stare with a replied look that the one-hour testing is not going to cause harm to her son.

I wondered what could have caused this boy’s delay.

His sister stopped schooling for a year as punishment of his father to his sister’s romantic tryst. He and his brother were not spared from the wrath his sister earned. I was alarmed to hear that. He continued that the plan of his father when he gets to high school is to enroll him to a home study program allowing him only lesser number of hours to study. Throughout the interview, he kept talking with eyes on the floor and his head downcast. With each awkward moment, I’d pause and ask him to look at me and he managed only one or two quick looks.

Actually, his businessman father does not want him to go to school anymore. He said it’s a waste of effort. He is resigned to the boy’s fate. If not for his mother’s persuasion, there won’t be another chance for him to study.

The boy displayed a waning self-esteem. He may have a learning disability or may be perceived as a slow learner, he wouldn’t know. His parents’ expectation weighed on him. By his father’s judgment, he is no good. Can there still be wonders to be expected of him if he is treated like a recluse mutant?

At 14, the world shouldn’t be harsh to him. Not in his own home. His being different, by standard, makes him already ashamed of himself. His father who is to give solace is too cold, too detach to feel. To be ridiculed even in school casts him on a bleak canvas. A child is naïve but never unfeeling. He can sense when he is truly wanted or when his trusted people have given up on him. All he needs is a clutch of gentleness, a feed of good word and a stroke of constant encouragement to soar. Redemption is to the vulture’s prey. He can’t alone. He can if help comes his way.

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