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Obedience and understanding

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“You can force the people to obey; you cannot force them to understand,” goes a Confucius saying.

In 2006, we were planning our return to India from the U.S. the following year. As the Indian school curriculum was heavier, my daughter, who was five, required some extra coaching in maths. I was her tutor, and she hated maths, calling it “deadly”.

In the late afternoon, after her nap time, she would practise maths. I was keen on making her sit for about an hour-and-a-half, much to her dislike.

As this routine continued, one day, even after my repeated calls, she did not come out of her room. I got irritated and my shouts grew louder. Yet there was no response. Sensing something amiss, I checked her room but found it empty. After searching the whole house, I realised that my daughter was missing.

Panic-stricken, I immediately called my neighbour. She was kind enough to help me and went around the house searching. She suddenly heard a weak mumbling sound coming from the closet. When we tried to open the door, it refused to, as the lock had jammed. We were convinced that my daughter was behind the closed door.

The first thing that struck me was that my little one would be suffocating inside. I hurriedly pushed the intercom buttons to get the community office’s help. A few minutes after my call, the security officer arrived and in a few seconds, he managed to unlock the closet. There, amid a pile of clothes, sat my little one with eyes wide open and confused.

As she walked out, the security officer asked her how was her time in the dark closet. She did not respond and quietly came and hid behind me. “Ah! She is just shocked... she will soon get over it,” the officer chuckled and walked away. I profusely thanked my neighbour.

All along, there was not a word from my girl. It was as if she had forgotten to speak. I carried her fondly in my arms and asked her, “Why did you not respond to the officer? Where you shocked and scared inside?”

“The darkroom was not as scary as maths,” she said. Only then I was pushed to reality. All along, I was making her obey but never could make her realise the importance of maths.

priyasri_m_1976@yahoo.com


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 2:36:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/obedience-and-understanding/article34564387.ece

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