Protecting does not stop at physical safety alone. In fact the biggest part that needs protection from others is the mental physical and visual anguish that people face.
So now you know the problems that I faced, you will also see how intelligently I handled it- yet people still call me mad.
I was always this protective because that I was brought up. Since cable television because common, visual horrors and obscenities increased tenfold. The first thing I did was cut off television in my house. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But it was necessary to protect my family from getting their minds corrupted. My kids were taunted in school for their ignorance for their lack of TV time; I didn’t care about my kids’ social standing with other kids as I was doing my job.
Music was allowed in my house and initially so was radio, but it gradually phased out after we got a computer. Radio was only allowed to be used under my supervision at the prescribed times between 7-9 pm. There was also a collection of a few music cassettes and a few audio stories which were of course my choice.
Everything was under my control until we got a computer. That’s when it started.
One day, my son asked me to buy a computer as he needed to learn it for school. Protective as I was of my family, I wasn’t one to stand in the way of progress and learning. So, we got a computer. I allowed them to use it under my supervision. The children wanted to play games again my protective instinct limited the types of games they could play to only sports and those games which were of the learning nature. Strategy and shooting games were not allowed.
My kids, it appeared, had never been happier. They would take turns of thirty minutes each on the computer. It was a win-win situation, they had something that helped them fit in with other kids and I was also happy that they weren’t exposed to any violence, vulgarity or any other sort of evil.
Then came the internet and my son asked me to get a connection. I had heard from my colleagues about this internet. Internet was amazing, they said; imagine accessing the whole from the comfort of your home. It couldn’t be as good as they said, my gut said there was something wrong with it. I asked around if someone knew about the drawbacks of the internet, which I could use as a basis to dissuade my children. Unfortunately, none of my acquaintances had any arguments for this. One of my friends suggested searching on the internet for its weaknesses. I scoffed at the idea, that anything would tell its own drawbacks, however, since there were no other sources from which I could obtain this information, so I thought why the hell not?
My friend invited me over to his house one day to show me what the internet does. I was intrigued by it especially when it revealed its disadvantages itself. My friend was patient enough to clarify any misconceptions I had about the ‘net’ as he referred to it. There was this thing called yahoo, it was a called a search engine. You could type in anything that you wanted and find it. It was like a virtual encyclopedia, it had the answer to everything.
Enlightened and impressed by the internet experience at my friend’s house, I gave my consent to get an internet connection.
I again imposed the condition that it could only be used under my supervision. After the introduction of the internet in my house, I noticed gradual changes in my three children. They were more knowledgeable, confident and in general more sure of themselves.
When my eldest son turned 16, and was about to start his last year in school, he approached me with a proposal to get a faster internet package and why he should be allowed to use the computer more. As I mentioned before that I didn’t know much about computers, so I didn’t understand most of his reasons as they involved a lot of technical jargon. The manner in which he presented his case impressed me; I reasoned with myself that if limited computer time has that much impact the effects of unlimited internet and more computer time would be massive.
After consulting with my eldest son and taking into the loop, a few tech savvy friends, I not only upgraded the internet connection but also upgraded the computer system. I also instructed my children to teach me how to use it.
Shortly afterwards work commitments made my work hours much longer and as a result my children’s computer time suffered a lot. After a week or so of this, I changed my supervision policy a little; I delegated the task of supervision to my wife and my elder son. Given the level of maturity he had been showing lately, I decided that his computer time did not need to be supervised anymore. I also started to pick up a few basics of the computer and the internet or the ‘web’ as my children called it.
They taught me that instead of typing up then name of any website I frequently visited I could simply go in history and click on the link again. I found that usually after every time my elder son used the computer the browser history would be wiped clean. I inquired about this from my son and he told me that sometimes having too much history saved on the computer’s memory can slow down the computer’s performance. The answer seemed satisfactory enough and I didn’t probe any further into this matter. Come to think of it, maybe I should have, perhaps I could have prevented my children from descending into the abyss of vulgarity which I discovered a while later.
My children had again begun to change. My younger son had started to become more ill-mannered, he had started to talk back at his mother and his siblings. My wife also told me that he had even begun to swear when conversing with friends or siblings.
My daughter had also changed; she was now more cheerful and upbeat. She was apparently listening to more music as she was always humming to some new tune. She told me that her friend had a good music collection and that she had loaned my daughter a small contraption called an ‘mp3 player’ which could store hundreds of songs. I could feel things slipping out of my control; at least my eldest child was away from it all. He was always so busy at the computer, I usually found him staring at the screen and when I would go near the computer to see what he was seeing, it was usually either the desktop screen or the document typing software called ‘MS Word’.
I let these things go, as I guess, this was just part of my children growing up. Protective as I was; I just couldn’t completely let this go. Consciously I had made an effort to let it all go, however, subconsciously; I guess I was noting it all.
Finally then there was the incident which ultimately became the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was after dinner time, somewhere around 11, if I remember correctly, I found my son at his now customary perch in front of the computer. As he saw me coming, my son pressed a few keys on the computer and by the time that I reached him, he was staring at the blank screen and was wearing a slightly guilty expression on his face. It was a combination of pursed lips and a determination not to look me in the eye as I approached him. The expression aroused my curiosity, so I sat down with him. I noted that a few windows had been minimized. I asked him to open all the windows. With slightly trembling fingers, he clicked on the minimized tabs one by one. The first one was the internet browser, the second one was a report he was typing on Word and the last window was of the media player. There was something playing on it and it was paused. I asked my son what it was, he told me it was an animated movie; I nodded at him to play it.
The animation was different, it wasn’t the Technicolor animation that I was used to; it was different, almost lifelike. I really marveled at the progress in technology. The media player was showing that ‘Shrek’ was playing. It was pretty decent for the first 20 minutes or so, a talking donkey, a lonely ogre and a princess. After that I was appalled at how much vulgarity they managed to sneak in a kid’s movie. Three things in the movie really threw me off.
- They showed an almost naked man lying on his bed looking at girls, granted that he had a blanket around his lower half, but you see what they were trying to imply.
- They introduced the sickening concept of inter species love- the dragon and the donkey
- Finally it was the ending that threw me off, where the green guy kisses the girl and turns her green permanently as if he had infected her.
What disturbed me even more that despite all these visual horrors, barring the kissing scene, my son made no attempt to forward the scene; voice his disapproval or even look away. After the movie ended, I instructed my son to turn off the computer and left the room, not discussing the movie with him.
That night I could not sleep, I spent the whole night tossing and turning, thinking how I had failed as a father. How despite taking all possible precautions did I fail to protect my children from the vulgarities, the evils of the world? I knew then that I had to do something drastic to protect the innocence of my children.
What I did next was not insane, quite the opposite, it was an act of extreme love. It was a very difficult decision to make; in fact I must confess here it was the hardest decision that I have ever had to make. In retrospect I still stand by my decision and given the chance to do it again, I would probably make the same call. I must stress again upon the fact, that I never was or have been at any point in my life, insane nor did I ever pose a threat to the society ever. I have never been violent to anyone nor have I tortured anyone.
If you examine how meticulously I planned out my decision, I daresay you might find flashes of genius in my acts but not a shred of insanity. First I needed some time off from work for 3 days so I could research and get supplies. I spent the first day getting surgical supplies, researching online and most important of all, getting 2 key components of my plan- chloroform and anesthesia.
I surprised my wife with a 3 day trip to her parents’ house up country. She had been dropping hints for quite a while, so understandably, she was quite delighted at my surprise. After dropping her off at the airport, I grabbed the rest of the supplies from office on the way to my house. I left everything in the car except the chloroform and cotton gauze, which I managed to sneak into the house.
That night my son told me that he had brought another animated movie and this time all 3 of them would be watching it and I was welcome to join them. I politely declined their request stating that I had work to do. This was true as I had to bring in the supplies from the car and set up in the basement.
That night around 2 am when I was sure that all my children were asleep, I soaked a wad of gauze in chloroform and placed on the face of all my children so they were knocked out. I checked this by shaking them vigorously after I presumably knocked them out. I then carried each of them down to the game room in our basement where I had moved a lot of things and set up my equipment there.
The floor was carpeted and I also brought some blankets and pillows for all three as I lay them down side by side. I handcuffed each of them. Each handcuff was linked to an individual steel chain used for towing vehicles. The chains were around 6 feet long and the end of each chain was linked to the end of the old grill of the basement window. The children were really out of it, they didn’t wake up till noon. I had prepared a little snack for them.
It was really fascinating to gauge the reaction of my children to their predicament. My eldest son was the first one to get up; he was puzzled at first, as he recognized his surroundings, he grew somewhat calm. The discovery that his hands were chained made him anxious and that anxiety turned to fear when our eyes met.
My daughter had the same puzzled look initially, but when our eyes met, there was no fear or even anxiety for that matter. All I could see in her cold grey eyes was defiance. This was something unexpected; I never took my daughter to be the rebellious kind or even have the mental strength to hold her own strange situations.
The most heart breaking of the reactions were from my youngest one. He stretched and felt the handcuffs, he yelled out “Fuck!” just like that. He then opened his eyes and saw his siblings also chained. He tried to yank himself free unsuccessfully. He then tried to squeeze his hands out of the handcuffs, he was again, unsuccessful. Realising that his exertions were useless and that he was trapped; the color left his face and his brow furrowed. Then our eyes met, his lower li began o quiver and his eyes began to well up. He started bawling like a new born baby has fat dollops dropped on his cheeks from his amber eyes and slid down his cheek. He cried so much that his nose started running and he threw up a little as well.
It broke my heart to see my son crying like that. Granted I was not the most affectionate father in the world, but I was still a father, and it pained me to see my own flesh and blood so upset. I gently wiped my son’s tears away and comforted him so he quietened down a bit. The only sounds in the basement were his occasional sobs and the clanking of chains as he wiped his face clean. All through this little episode, my other two children were silent and did not move. Apparently they did not care for their sibling- another reason to go ahead with my decision.
“Here guys, eat up, I made a little snack for you,” I said as I gently as I could, nudging the tray of snacks towards them “After this we’ll have a bathroom break and then I’ll tell you guys why we are here.
Not much was said as the meal was finished in silence. I cleared my throat and began “As you probably wondering why you are here and why there was a need for such drastic measures”
I paused and waited for my words to sink.
“Drastic times call for drastic measures,” I remarked noting that fear was gradually becoming more prominent on the faces of the children; this was softening my resolve, so I chose to focus on the grill of the basement.
“I’m not going to lie to you, this is going to hurt. I will try to be as gentle as possible. You know what they say, short term pain for long term gain.” As I said this, I reached for the bottle of local anesthetic and placed it in front of me. There was complete silence in the room as six eyes focused on me as I unpacked the supplies which I had procured over the course of the last two days. I placed the bottle of antiseptic next to the anesthetic along with a few packets of syringes and big khaki paper bag containing cotton swabs, crepe bandages and gauze.
I filled up three syringes with anesthesia and began speaking, my focus again on the grills of the basement. “I’m going to inject you each with anesthesia and while it takes effect, we will take the bathroom break I mentioned before and then I will explain to you what I’m going to do.” As I said I pulled my younger son close to me and said as gently as I could “Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.”
He again started sobbing and mumbled incoherent apologies. I brushed the hair out of is eyes and repeated myself in the same gentle tone as before. He timidly stuck out his tongue, I gripped his face from the side in such a way that my fingers were on the nape of his neck and my palm was on his cheek. I couldn’t inject on the first attempt as his constant sobbing made his face wet and consequently very hard to grip. I managed to do it on the second attempt.
“Why are you doing this?” My son asked me speaking to me for the first time since he woke up in the basement.
“I’ll tell you after the bathroom break”
“I don’t think that anyone’s interested in going to the bathroom. We want to know why we are here.” He demanded, looking me in the eye.
“Why are we in chains? What’s with all the medical equipment? Why the sterilizer?” His tone was now bordering on rudeness.
This was a real watershed moment for me; one I hoped would have occurred earlier- my elder son taking charge, becoming his own man. It was a real bittersweet moment for me, on the one hand I was lucky enough to witness my son coming into his own as a man. On the other hand it was also appalling the way he was disrespecting me, disregarding everything I had taught him about the etiquette of addressing his elders. The other children were quiet and I could feel three pairs of eyes staring at me. Slightly taken aback by the outburst, I took a few moments to compose myself.
I sighed and started to speak. I speak as slowly and as clearly as I possibly could. I focused on putting the scalpel in the sterliser as I spoke. I was extra careful in my pronunciation, I was very conscious of what words left my mouth, weighing up each syllable carefully before speaking it. It was very important that my concerns were conveyed to my children exactly as I perceived them.
“Evil interacts with us in many ways. Sometimes through the deeds of others, other times through the deeds of our own or by chance. We can’t control how evil interacts with us through the deeds of others, however, we can control the other two ways,” I paused and looked up from the sterilizer, which was now filled with stainless steel scalpels of all sizes ranging from the tip the size of a ball point pen to the size of a butter knife, to check the reaction of my children. Their faces were impassive with furrowed brows betraying anxiety and furtive glances between the little surgical setup I had made in the basement and me. I paused to gather my thoughts and continued “We interact with evil primarily through three of our major senses- we speak evil, we see evil and we hear evil.”
My younger son’s eyes started to grow misty again, I chose to ignore this and continued “Now, I’m not heartless enough to keep you tied you up in this basement for the rest of your life or make you deaf and dumb for that matter, I will just be minimizing the impact of certain senses which you are most likely to use when committing evil. Please believe me when I say that I have thought long and hard about this. It is not an act out of spite; it’s a very rational decision and the most difficult one I have had to make in my entire life.” My voice cracked, I felt my lower lip quiver, my eyes misted briefly as I felt a warmth slide down my cheek. I had forgotten how it felt when a person cries, it was the first time I cried since my childhood. I wiped the tear, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The room was completely silent except for the sounds of my breathing and whimpers. I opened my eyes to see all three sobbing. I took another deep breath and asked my youngest son “Can you feel your tongue?” He nodded. I again injected his tongue and took the plates of breakfast up to the kitchen.
When I returned, I signaled my son to come forward. I placed two pieces of gauze on both his eyes and wrapped crepe bandage around his head. He couldn’t see anything through this make shift blindfold.
“Don’t move,” I instructed him, “Open your mouth”
“I’m sorry, I’ll be better, I promise” he started trembling again. I knelt down but I couldn’t find the right angle to make the cut. I placed a couple of pillows on top of each other and placed his head on it. He started sobbing again; I shushed him and held his head steady with one hand whilst holding the scalpel in the other hand. I couldn’t get a firm grip as the bandage was pretty damp from his tears. My hand started shaking as my son finally managed to stop sobbing and stuck out his tongue. I composed myself again- I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. I dried his temple with gauze so I could get a better grip on his head. His eyes were shut tight in anticipation of a lot of pain; they were shut so tight that his upper lip was dragged up exposing his gums.
I placed the scalpel on his tongue and pressed the sharp edge on the tip. The saliva caused the scalpel to slip, so I used gauze to dry out his mouth by placing small gauze balls in his mouth to absorb new saliva generated by the glands. I gripped the scalpel more firmly and pressed the scalpel on his tongue; this time I was successful in making the incision, the cut was pretty shallow, but I still managed to draw some blood. A thin sheen of blood appeared on his tongue, I had forgotten how queasy blood made me. I leaned back to gather myself again. I saw my daughter look at the bloody tongue of her brother and she let out an ear piercing scream. I raised my hand to silence her. What happened next probably took place in under a minute, but every time I go over the events I’m about to describe next, it seems so much longer. I felt something cool pressing against my throat.
“The keys to the cuffs!” my first born growled in my ear as he tightened the linking chain of the cuffs around my throat.
“You don’t understand son,” I croaked, “It’s for your own good- the world’s and evil place-“
“The keys” he hissed in my ear, his voice was dangerously low. His tone was very threatening “the only thing evil in my world… is you! Now give me the damn keys before I put a stop to the only evil in my life,” he paused as he tightened the chain on my Adam’s apple constricting my windpipe, “permanently”
“Okay, okay,” I gave in as I rummaged my pocket for the keys. I tossed them the whole bunch on to the carpeted floor. My daughter picked it up an unlocked herself and her siblings as well as the padlocks on all the chains. We all watched her in silence as the grip on my throat loosened slightly.
“Now cuff him” he instructed her.
“But –“she started to protest
“Now” he said in that dangerous tone again tightening the chain on my throat, although his wrists were now free, he was still maintaining his grip on my neck with the linking chain. I was then cuffed and chained in a more restricting way than I had bound my children. All my limbs were cuffed and tied to the basement window.
What happened next is quite a blur, as I was shifted to a medical facility immediately afterward and spent a lot of time heavily sedated. There are a few recurring flashes of the tear filled face of my wife, a court hearing and the judge’s condescending look. I’m not sure whether they are hallucinations, memories or just recurring nightmares.