Facing loss and losing face

So many questions keep assaulting your brain all day long on a daily basis giving you no respite until tender Night comes to your rescue and cradles you into its arms as soon as your eyelids start drooping and Sleep draws a curtain over hordes of intruders:

societal issues, never-ending economic crisis, climate change, uncertainties facing the younger generation, unemployment, gender issues and so on. Not for long though.

First sunrays drag you out of bed, alas!, your intruder companions are wide awake too and flock back to your brains, jostling for prominence and claiming your attention back to reality. And yet a few hours earlier the world of dreams looked so real while you were pinned to your bed in deep sleep and yet left your body and wandered around, talking to relatives and improbable people in the most weird settings, and walked along dark corridors and stepped into subterranean regions and met long gone parents, relatives and neighbours, all dead years ago but so alive and peaceful, waiting for God knows what.

The strange atmosphere looked so real and you felt so much at peace that you wish you stayed there among the friendly serene faces.

Now back to reality. You slip into your car, put on your sunglasses, toss your bag on the passenger seat, adjust the rear mirror and drive off to work. As usual, international press headlines, topical issues, political events, local development projects, societal woes of all sorts and loads of topics flash across your mind.

The most infuriating latest piece of news in the press comes rather unsurprisingly to us. A few politicians are thumping their fists on the table and proposing death penalty as an effective deterrent to rampant crime. Comments on the Internet reveal a retrograde warped mindset of part of the public who are unable to reason outside the perimeters of a repressive bloodthirsty ideology which sends the culprits to the gallows. Presumably, supporters of the death sentence hope to gain some vote banks in the process.

Coping with adversity

The core issue underlying recourse to excessive violence is the inability to manage conflicts. Imagine the emotional state of those whose crimes have been hogging the headlines these days. A few minutes of suspension of reason and total blackout of thought kindle the basest primitive killer instinct that has been lying dormant in a corner of their brains. Normal men suddenly become killers. No sooner is the news aired in the media than it unleashes the aggressive lynching mob onto Internet blogs, impatient to hand over the culprits to the hangman’s rope.

Many of us do experience anger, fear, humiliation or jealousy but we take care not to step over the boundary that defines civilized behaviour. One specificity over here is that criminal cases involving rich and influential people drag on for years. The murders of women at Grand Bay, Baie du Tombeau and Vacoas are still not elucidated. Some husbands or lovers hire others to do the dirty job for them.

Others who are powerful enough send tapères to settle scores with adversaries. Just have a straight look at how a few high-ranking people deal with adversity when they are accused of serious wrongdoings. Those who feel that they have been wrongly accused are expected to stand up like mature adults and responsible top public figures and refute allegations. If they are guilty, they should assume responsibility bravely. Nay, they suddenly have high blood pressure and are rushed to private clinics. Or they play hide-and-seek with the Court. Totally immature and irresponsible.

A few anecdotes reveal how some men act in a most incredibly stupid manner. A woman tells her husband that his eleven-year-old son (born from his first marriage) should inform her of his whereabouts for he is too young to hang around with friends. The husband totally dismisses any discussion on this matter, which should be of prime importance to him for it concerns his son’s upbringing. It bothers him so much to have to face his son, so he gets angry with his wife, packs up and takes a MK flight to India and disappears for a few weeks.

Another fellow does not agree with historical facts and dates in a conversation on the ancient history of Asia. In no time, he lights out. Where is he gone? you ask. He is sitting outside at the back of the house with a can of beer and a cigarette (probably with high blood pressure). ‘He is angry, he is often like that.’ ‘Oh really?’ ‘He cannot stand being contradicted, it is too much for him.’ Oh dear! This one beats them all. His father falls seriously ill, his desperate mother wonders whether it is better to take him to a private clinic or have him treated at a public hospital. In his late forties, the son decides single-mindedly that it should be a clinic or nothing else. If anyone goes against his opinion, he will stop talking to them.

There must be quite a number of such fellows around. Spoilt brats who never really grow up. Capricious, childish and tyrannical. What is wrong with those fellows? You just wonder how their women put up with them.

Jilted Lovers and Husbands

The extremist peers of the above-mentioned category straightaway eliminate the cause of their psychological discomfort, giving no chance to their victims to live without their indispensable presence. With her former boyfriend sitting astride on her body pinning her to the floor and stabbing her until her last breath, young Rachelle witnessed her own mise à mort. After dumping her for another girl who is now pregnant, the cowboy matador expected to be welcomed back with garlands.

A few months ago we made a plea for the acquitment of Selvina on account of her unbearable situation as a battered young woman and for her children’s sake. She was about to start a new life just as Deepa who was determined to find work, become financially independent, stop being the punching ball of a violent husband and start afresh with another man she was happier with.

Not only had their lives and future been taken away from them, but their children and families have to bear the sufferings for the rest of their life. Rachelle was an educated young woman and a diploma holder, and she did not even start a career. The two other victims would have contributed to the economy in whatever jobs would have been available to them. Unlike the heroine in the latest Indian film ‘The Lunchbox’, they could not pack up and head to Bhutan with their children and dream of sharing the Gross Happiness Product there. With IRS, RES and other real estate development projects which have sent the price of land soaring at random, common mortals in small Mauritius can only flee to the next cité, village or town, where their jilted lovers and husbands are likely to lay their hands on them.

Unable to face the loss of their partners, the culprits will lose face and bear the badge of murderers for the rest of their life in jail, all expenses paid by taxpayers’ money. State pensions have to be given to their children for years. Hence the reason why society in general should feel concerned about the self-improvement of people and the ways and means to achieve it.

Changing Attitudes

Dare ask ourselves the right questions about the upbringing and behaviour of men, not only wife-beaters but also the other ‘normal’ men who harass their women psychologically for years.

Are men properly coached before embarking on marriage? Do they know how to treat girls and women with elegance and courtesy? Some of them might think they are buying their wife’s domesticity and servility because they are the sole breadwinners in the family. Why do women dump their men?

Independent polls published in newspapers and commented on radios might enlighten the public on how men and women perceive marital relationships. Relationships are about what you expect from others. A key question is: What do a man and a woman expect from each other?

Answers might help adopt an analytical approach and shed light on taboo subjects. Early marriages should not be encouraged. In many cases girls like Selvina and Deepa got married off too young. With maturity comes wisdom, and after some ten years or so they start regretting their marriage to the first fellow who carried them away on ‘love’s light wings’. Young Romeos and their beloved are more in love with the notion of love than they actually love anyone. How caring and loving husbands are after a few years? Quite a number of young women admit that after 30, lavi fam ine fini, which is a euphemism for the end of sexual relationships or their being unsatisfactory. How good are men in bed? Are they good lovers? Men should be reassured that women do not expect them to pant like horses every night. It is up to them not to let commitment to work relegate human relationships to the background.

To move forward and avoid lavi fam ine fini pour de bon with more violence and killings, lots of efforts should be made to help understand male and female psychology, and preserve cultural values on the importance of a family-based society which guarantees stability and cohesion.

The last thing we need is the imported model of western individualism or the Afghanistani desert culture style of dealing with societal ills.

* Published in print edition on 21 February 2014

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