Sunday, February 26, 2012

What to do when a husband beats up a wife, with the entire street watching?

A little after the sun set and the lights came on, I heard a whole lot of noise.  Yelling and screaming. And some strange "thud" sounds.

Curiosity being my middle name, I stepped out in a territory that is completely alien to me.  Alien in terms of a place that is all new; a culture that I no longer instinctively relate to; and even dialects of Tamil that force me to listen in order to understand. 

But then, it is after all the same curiosity that took me to Ecuador, where I was even more an alien.

So, I did step out and, to use an American idiom, walked half-a-block to figure out what was going on.

Quite a few people were there even before me.  Women carrying infants, topless men, and old women without teeth.  I mean, an entire cross section of the neighborhood, except children.

Turns out that it was one ugly fight between a husband and a wife.  They were cussin' and screamin' and throwing things.

Throughout, the husband was routinely whacking the wife on the back and on her shoulder.

It was just bizarre a sight.  The way the other watchers behaved, I felt as if they had seen such things before, and perhaps even between this very couple.  And that they stepped out because the television shows they were watching were far less interesting.

I had no place in this.  I retreated to my own safe quarters: nobody would beat me, nor would I assault one. 

The question though was whether I had not done the right thing by retreating. 

Maybe I ought to bring this up at "M's" class when I guest-lecture there next term, and have the students worry over it as much as, or even more than, what I am doing now?

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