Out of the mouth of babes

Out of the mouth of babes
The writer’s pets


Alemtula Longchar

“Bad things happen to good people. That’s what I remind myself everyday.” Wisdom from my teenage son.


Don’t be misled. He likes Jeremy Clarkson. And Chris Tucker. And anime.


But one morning was every working-mother’s nightmare. Every little thing was either getting delayed or burning or boiling over. And the dogs were not eating. They were probably still full from the mattress they had chewed-up at night.So,the clock was ticking on steadily and things were unraveling at a good pace taking my temper along with it. And everyone nearby was getting it left, right and center from me. I was just winding up a long self-pitying speech by asking why everything that can go wrong in a home happens to us. That’s when my son spoke up with the quoted words.


I stared at him in amazement. The expression on his face was sly-fox met Yoda. But it broke the tension and the tense morning ended in laughter. Though the dogs still did not eat.


Regardless of the doubtful credentials of the speaker and the incongruity of the situation in which they were used, the truism of the words cannot be denied. Our universe has never been balanced in the sense that we understand. It also doesn’t appear to be governed by any rhyme or reason. And bad things do happen to good people all the time. A family that just wants to get to school/office on time is thwarted by truant electricity, insensitive visitors and un-co-operative pets. A diligent student falls sick during a crucial exam. The most harmless family loses its sole breadwinner. A promising young life is snatched away in a senseless accident. An 8-year old girl grazing her family herd is kidnapped, starved and brutalized for days and then murdered.


The degree may vary but they are injustices all the same. Where is the sense or balance in all these? Bad things ought to happen to bad people. They are retribution for bad deeds. At least, that’s what we are taught since childhood. But it rarely happens that way. Instead, we have vicious, evil people enjoying a smooth ride usually on the backs of good people. How do we persist with our faith in a mechanism, human or otherwise, that dispenses justice and redress? Do we become immune, shrugging our shouldersat what eight adult human beings did to a small child and say, “These things happen. That’s life.”


Life goes on. It usually does. Whether a family pet refuses food or a mother is confronted with the mutilated body of a beloved baby girl, the universe does not pause to commiserate. The harmless and helpless plods on, with the sky falling on their heads regularly.


And the bad people? For them the sky’s the limit. The milk and honey of the world is theirs. They are never killed in freak accidents or natural disasters. They have power or powerful friends. They run temples and prayer houses– funded by pious and generous patrons. They become prime ministers.

Thank God man is mortal.