Death and violence dominate my world
The news came as a surprise; my friend, schoolmate and now middle-age colleague was dead. I thought that Gregory Delmar Gaskin had suffered a heart attack because I was unaware that he was ill. I called the security firm he established and a woman, as is the case these days, was full of euphemism.
I asked whether there was any truth in the report that Gregory was dead. The woman said that she could not say that I should speak to some secretary. The secretary was a little better. She said that she was aware that he was in hospital and that I should call his brother in law.
The brother in law told me that Gregory was dead, that he had crashed at the South Dakota circuit. So there it was. Another of my schoolmates had gone to the Great Beyond. The last time I penned a column along these lines some of my workmates laughed. They concluded that I was getting scared because death was now lurking by me.
The truth is that I couldn’t care less; it is just that as I look around I realize that my circle of friends was shrinking. But as someone once said, death is just another arc in the circle of life.
But without waxing philosophical, I must wonder about Gregory wanting to be playing with bikes at his age. Indeed, I have seen much older people riding some monster bikes but for me, the days of the adrenaline rush are long over. If I want a thrill then I can get it from television. I am not like the people who over the past few days have been using their cutlasses with a vengeance.
A young man got chopped to death in the hinterland this past week. A photographer provided me some shots of the injuries. Suffice it to say that they were so gruesome that I doubt any doctor could have stitched them. Life was declining in value.
But what really got to me was the report that a magistrate had jailed a man for six weeks for beating his fourteen-year-old daughter. I had cause to lay my hand on my children perhaps not as violently as my mother did with me.
I never brutalized my children. I would apply a few strokes to their backside. On one occasion I slapped my daughter because she had stepped out of line. I am for corporal punishment as opposed to physical abuse and I must say that none of my children slipped into a world of crime. I had no problem in knowing where they were and what time they would be home.
They are all adults and none of them hates me. In fact, they would tell their friends and associates that I am the best father they ever knew.
And so it was that I was shocked at the jail sentence imposed on this father. The little girl was said to be in constant pursuit of sex, regardless of what her parents tried. The father lost it one day when she failed to come home. I could never understand a child of fourteen not coming home. My fourteen olds had to be home by eight without fail.
I enquired about the reason for the jail sentence and I heard that the father had taken the law into his own hands; that he failed to use the support system provided. I had no support system and in any case, if the father wanted to ensure that the police did not kill his child then he had a right to adopt the nest method to prevent this.
I have seen parents cry because the police shot and killed their errant child and on each occasion I concluded that if the parent had applied the rod in the early days then the situation would have been different.
I have already said that we are following those countries that seek to enforce the view that beating a child encourages violence in later life. I grew up in the age when floggings were the norm and I can say that the extent of violence was never what it is today. I expect to see a lot of comments. I still hear a SASOD member saying that parents beat children because they could. The inference is that if the child could beat us then we would not be too quick to use the whip. My 88-year-old mother still slaps me.
One reason for the jail sentence, I learnt, was that the father took the law into his own hands. Perhaps such actions are responsible for parents leaving children to their own devices and the society pays. And it pays in a big way. We have law enforcers now involved in crime. A case in point involves two female prison officers who are now behind bars for smuggling marijuana into the prisons to feed the very prisoners who may have gone to jail for drug possession.
And I just learnt of another prison officer who was held with a gun at a roadblock in the vicinity of Sparendaam. Was he taking the gun to help fuel crime?