Ryan International School murder: A Gurgaon mother on the news of child's death

Every time an incident like this occurs, I feel weak and vulnerable.

 |  4-minute read |   11-09-2017
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As a Gurgaon parent of a seven-year-old, the murder of the little boy in Ryan International School really shook me, as it did every other parent in the country.

Sexual assault, even a failed one, and of course, the death of a child, are the worst fears of any parents. To drop a child to school and be informed within 20 minutes that he has been found bleeding, and then to rush to the hospital and find he is no more, is beyond devastating. No wonder angry parents have been protesting outside the school gates for three days. There is anger, there is frustration, there is helplessness, and of course, there is fear. This could happen to my child.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated case. In another incident in Delhi on Saturday, a five-year-old girl was raped by a peon in a classroom in Tagore Public School in Shahdara. The man has been arrested, but denies having sexually assaulted the child.

Bangalore, Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai... the list goes on and on. And these are just the cases that are reported.

ryan_091117122106.jpgMy worry is, the anger will die down, one family will never be whole again, but everyone else will settle right back into their inertia.

As a mother, I honestly do not know what to do. First we were told we must educate our children about good touch and bad touch, and how they must raise an alarm immediately. But raising an alarm got the poor child killed and now I wonder, should we tell our children not to raise an alarm if the perpetrator is armed? To first gauge if they can find an escape route or run before screaming?

Then I think, what nonsense. This is a seven-year-old child we’re talking about. How can we expect a young child to have the response and reflexes that even adults sometimes don’t. So then, the next option is to become completely paranoid about safety and not allow our children to go on any school camps or treks, nor stay back for any co-curricular activities or sports. We should shadow them everywhere, drop and pick them up from school personally, because even school buses can’t be trusted. And if they really want to learn how to play an instrument or learn dance perhaps, sorry, no class. Instead get a tutor home and sit through the class yourself.

Wouldn’t that be detrimental to their upbringing and their personalities? Of course it would. How can you raise your child in a bubble? You can’t. But if safety comes at that cost, so be it?

My mind goes back and forth. As a working mom, the fears are compounded. How can a mom who is not even home in the day ensure her child is safe, either at a day care or at home with "trusted" help when the very caregivers and nurturers become predators at school?

Should she quit work then, cut corners, but follow her child around all day? Is this what her existence is to become?

I think about what the boy’s parents must be going through. Numb with grief and horror, they are probably playing out their son’s last few moments of anguish and helplessness over and over again in their minds, unable to comprehend or come to terms with the loss. Wondering again and again where they went wrong and what they could have done differently.

Is relocating out of India an option? When actor Aamir Khan said in 2015 that his wife had suggested they move out of the country due to the growing incidents of intolerance, everyone was up in arms, but I’m sure this is a thought that has crossed and does cross every parent’s mind when such horrific incidents come to light.  

My worry is, the anger will die down, one family will never be whole again, but everyone else will settle right back into their inertia, and ennui and laxity will once again creep in.

In fact, I am so inured to the inaction that I don’t even expect any radical change. In a newspaper report I read, it said the bus conductor was sacked from another school for similar misconduct, but the school did not report the matter to the police. And Ryan or the agency they outsourced the buses to, obviously did not conduct any safety checks, else he wouldn’t have been hired. And this is how the cycle of paedophilia continues, unchecked.

As a mother, every time an incident like this occurs, I feel weak and vulnerable. I can only have faith and pray that my child will be safe since there is no real system of checks and redressal to make me feel empowered. But tonight I will be saying a prayer for that little child and his family, because there is really nothing else I can do.

Also read: Sad how the murder of Class 2 Ryan International School student got politicised


Geetika Sasan Bhandari Geetika Sasan Bhandari @geetika_sb

The writer is a former deputy editor, India Today Digital.

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