I was a law student not too long ago, and part of our course curriculum required that we visit a Juvenile Home in our final year. Our college arranged for it, and we all put in money to buy packets of ‘Frooti’ and biscuits for all the boys there. We entered and we were given a small orientation, telling us what the daily routine of all those boys was like – it was your basic prison routine, except that they had classes where they were taught basic Math and Thirukkural by an incompetent teacher. We were then told that we could walk around and mingle with these boys, but not to ask any ‘provoking questions’.
What followed was both heart-breaking and frightening….
We came across a bunch of boys who were destitutes or from broken families. With fathers/brothers who were thieves themselves and who would give up their kids and force them to surrender to the cops just so they could escape themselves. Most of these boys were children – aged between 10-15 and were already into petty theft, chain/car/bike stealing and the occasional street brawl. It was scary hearing them recount their experiences, but we all felt bad – these were children who stole because they didn’t know how else they would get food that night, or because they didn’t know it was wrong. [One boy told us that his dad told him to go and get some iron rods from near the railway tracks and he brought them. The child didn’t realise it was stealing and once the cops came close, the dad dropped the rods near the child and ran] These are children brought up in broken homes and with almost no sense of right and wrong.
We came across another set of boys.. a couple of them, they coolly stood apart from the rest and seemed to almost survey us. One of my friends walked up to him and said, ‘We are lawyers. Please let us know if we can help you in any way – any legal aid/representation’. The leader of the gang, a 15 year old, gave him a cocky smile and said, ‘I raped an 8 year old girl. What will you help?’ My friend stood speechless for a minute and asked, ‘Why did you do it?’ And the 15 year old replied without the slightest hint of regret, “Anna (elder brother), I wanted to. Supera irunthuchu (translated to mean, ‘it was super’) Neengalum try pannunga (You should also try)” A 15 year old boy with a psycho look in his eyes and not the slightest sense of wrong for what he had done – a chill ran down my spine when I heard him and looked at him. He laughed and walked away with his buddies. And that was the moment when I started believing that maybe some children are just born evil.
My best friend called me up last night and said, ‘Do you remember Uma Maheshwari miss?’ I was out having a late snack with another best friend, so I just casually asked her, ‘Yep, I remember her well.. what’s up with her?’ And she replied, ‘She just died today. Apparently a student stabbed her to death’. I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of a minute. And I kept asking her as to what had caused this, she didn’t have any answers except to say, ‘The killer student was apparently angry with her’. I somehow thought there would be another reason, not an excuse, but atleast something more serious that would in some way explain (not justify) this rage. Read the newspaper reports here, here and here. This lady taught at my school for a couple of years when I was in high school. I remember her hanging around the Physics lab and helping us out. A harmless woman, quite friendly and someone whom the guys in my class used to tease and annoy/irritate a little. She had apparently called the boy’s father to the school and told him the son wasn’t studying enough. The boy got angry, bought a knife and brought it to school, found her alone and stabbed her repeatedly, even chasing her until she eventually collapsed. She is survived by two daughters and a husband, I think. I still remember two bright eyed little girls following her around during school events like the Annual Day and Project Day. How will they come to terms with such a senseless loss?
I sometimes feel we live in such a dangerous world. A world where rage is sometimes uncontrolled, where vicious and unprovoked acts go unpunished. And where sometimes, violence is even excused. There was a debate on this at IHM’s blog – click and read it here.
But whatever said and done, I’m not able to think of anything that would justify such random acts of violence and brutality. Premeditated, cold acts with full knowledge of its consequences by a person who is just an adolescent.
Makes me wonder, are people sometimes just born evil?