03192012 - The punishment..

**Disclaimer: The intent of the story is not to bring out the differences but to establish human values. I do not know the credibility of the source. This might also be a work of fiction**

Apartheid was a system racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority non-white inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. (Source Wikipedia)

Why am I quoting this?? Because my next story revolves around an incident that happened during this period. As the disclaimer says, I do not know the credibility of this story,..

This story is about an African woman, in her mid forties. A wife to a devoted husband, a mother to a rebellious child. A rebellious child not in the house, but to the system of discrimination shown during that period. Born leader, this child gathered a group of youngsters who decided to fight fire with fire. They acquired arms and through violence, started fighting the non-black forces for the discrimination they had done. An aggressive search was ordered to bring the leader of the group to justice. While the leader was hiding in his house, the soldiers, on the pretext of searching started harassing the family members, this continued for a few days until the leader could take it no more. On that unfortunate day, when the soldiers were harassing the members of the house, this leader stepped out and started shouting at the soldiers. The soldiers shot him dead, took his body. The father protested, requesting the soldiers to at least give the body of their son, the soldiers shot the father and took his body as well. As a warning, they told the lady that if she complained to anyone about this incident, then the bodies of her husband and her son would not be returned. The lady had no choice but to keep quiet.

In 1994, when apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela was made the president of South Africa, one of the first assignments he took was to establish a commission called "the True Commission". This commission would look into any racial discrimination done to the black people and try to do justice to the in-justice done. The lady's case was brought up, and after verification, it was clarified that the soldiers had NOT respected the orders that they were given, injustice was done.

Nelson Mandela along with the soldiers visits the lady's house and asks ##"My dear lady, these are the two soldiers who have acted beyond their orders to kill your husband and son. I could not think of any punishment that would do justice to the fate they have brought upon you. So, I have brought them to you. I will let you decide the punishment. What would you recommend as a punishment to them?"

The lady responds, "Sir, I have lost two of my closest members, both of whom were of great support and strength to me. I have suffered so many years without a word. If I give my recommendation, it will certainly be influenced by my past events, is that acceptable ?"

Nelson Mandela responds, "Certainly, it will be executed without questioning"

The lady responds, "Sir, I have longed for so many years to eat a morsel of food together with my family, and I have none. These two deprived me of that right. As their punishment, I want them to visit my house every Sunday, sit with me, talk to me as though they are my children and eat food with me. Not just this, on every other day of the month, they have to spend time with other families like mine, and share their happiness/sorrow".

Nelson Mandela asks, "That will be arranged madam. But why this punishment?? Are you a religious lady?? I certainly would have come to this decision if I were you. I am curious to know, why did you take this decision ?"

The lady responds, "A punishment should evoke remorse in a person. Every time they eat a morsel of food with families like mine, they will be reminded of the injustice they did, and the sharing of joy and sorrow will help them understand the conditions and emotions we black people have. Its the same blood that runs in all our veins. Understanding us will hopefully make them better people".

********The story ends********

Now, I do not know if this is a true story or not, but its certainly a story that evokes emotions in me every time i listen to it. This is because of the following things:

* The elevated thinking of a mother, who despite of having gone through the pain was able to think beyond the pain and suggest a punishment that would change the mind set of the soldiers.

* My earlier blog also talked about - Justice tempered with mercy, this story also derives the same concept. Justice should be done to change the person from within. It is not "justice" if it makes a person harbor more hatred within him all throughout his punishment and then after the term, he becomes a greater threat to the society.

* A mother, is always a mother! I remember a saying in Kannada "ಕೆಟ್ಟ ಮಗು ಹುಟ್ಟಬಹುದು ಆದರೆ ಕೆಟ್ಟ ತಂದೆ ತಾಯಿ ಯಾವತ್ತು ಹುಟ್ಟೋಲ್ಲ " which translates to, "Our land can give birth to a bad child, but not bad parents!"

## - Made up conversation - to give life to the story