He was 3 years old as I walked him home, from his kindergarten. His tiny sister craddling in my arms. We passed a rickshawala arguing with his wife on the street. The man slapped her, snatched the money out of her hand, pushed her to the ground. I hastily pulled my son with me and made him cross the road, his eyes looking at me questioningly. I patted him on his tiny head and smiled, “Not All Men, my baby, Not All Men”
He was 8 years old when he came back from school to see our maid crying in our house. My wife listening attentively to her tales, of her drunk husband beating her every night for no reason. He looked at his Mother and then at me. I kept my newspaper aside and told him, “Not All Men, my dear boy, Not All Men”
He was 15 years old when he came back from his Jr. College, obviously disturbed. He told me about one of his Teachers who had spent her entire afternoon crying in their classroom because the Director of their college had made an inappropriate pass at her. I gave him a soothing look, to calm him down, “Not All Men, my son, Not All Men”
He was 20 years old. He came back from college, very angry. A few guys outside his college were eve teasing the girls from his batch. He wanted to give it back to them and was looking for his hockey stick. I gave him a stern look and pointed to his books instead saying, “Not All Men, Young Man, Not All Men”
He was 31 now, as I stood sipping my evening tea, watching him walk down the tiny lane leading to our house. A strapping young man with a fantastic job.
I saw him look away from the girl in her pink salwar suit, being surrounded by a bunch of hooligans in our lane. I turned away, waiting for the door to open and him to arrive.
I looked questioningly at him as he entered the house. I wanted to ask him why he didnt stop those hooligans. He closed the door, my query quite obvious to him, sat down and calmly replied …. “Not All Men, Dad, Not All Men”
An insistent banging on our door continued, even as my Son, rushed to open it. He staggered back, as if struck by a lightening bolt. My eyes fell on the 20 something girl standing in the doorway, fear and panic written all over her face, the sleeve of her pink salwaar torn, her dupatta missing.
“Dad…..”, she said, as my eyes went blur, the cup of tea crashing down to the floor, as I glanced to see my Son sitting on the floor with his head buried in his hands.
In all my years of defending the “Men”….. I completely forgot to raise a “MAN”.
Disclaimer: This post is a work of fiction. I dont have a daughter (unfortunately…always wished I had one). But I do have two sons and they will never hide behind the excuse of #NotAllMen … Not if I can help it !!!