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A couple of days back, I saw a news item that took me down memory lane.

A 10-year-old boy had become problematic for his mother because he refused to take bath. No amount of coaxing or cajoling would work. He stubbornly refused to shower for days.

The hassled mother then devised a novel way to solve the issue. The boy was extremely scared of cockroaches. Taking advantage of this weakness, she photographed him while he was sleeping and later Photoshopped a few roaches on his picture.

She then showed it to the kid telling him that the dirty insects were crawling all over him because he was not taking a bath. The trick worked. The little boy got mortally scared.

Angry mummy

Since then, he began bathing 10 times a day. This created another problem for the mother; she shared in a widely circulated interview.

The incident reminded me of my childhood when I must have been eight to 10 years old. I would skip bathing for days. When caught, I would slip out of my mother’s grip and keep away from her lest I was caught again.

My repeated defiance made her lose her patience. It was getting too much for her to bear. Exasperated, one day, she decided to teach me a lesson. Mummy caught hold of me and sternly told me to sit still. I sat in front of her like a criminal who is made to sit in a police station. I waited to know what kind of punishment was being readied for me. I started breathing heavily on seeing her wringing some cloth to turn it into a hunter whip. I felt like shrieking but did not make a sound seeing that she was being ruthless.

For the last 75 years now, taking a bath first thing in the morning has been my routine.

- Lalit Raizada

This was followed by a spanking session that seemingly went on and on. I started crying and cried loudly to attract the attention of my grandmother, whose darling I was. She appeared and tried to stop the beating but failed. The hue and cry also attracted other members of our large family.

With folded hands, I implored to my mother that henceforth, I would take a bath every day unfailingly. But she would not relent. I was spared when my grandmother snatched away the hunter whip from my mother’s hand and scolded her for being so cruel and inhuman to a little boy.

Tears all round

Scene Two: My mother, who was also crying profusely, took me in her arms, kissed me with her wet eyes and cheeks. I repeatedly promised her that I would henceforth never skip a bath. She caressed me. My crying was reduced to sobbing. She also wiped her tears. I calmed down in the warmth of her bosom.

Yes, as promised, I started taking showers regularly, once a day and twice a day during the humid season.

Incidentally, this beating session had a salutary effect on my siblings and cousins who watched it happen. For the last 75 years now, taking a bath first thing in the morning has been my routine. I have been religiously following the promise I made to mummy. But now that I am in my eighties, whenever I am unable to do so due to age-related health problems, I get a feeling that she is watching me from Heaven. However, I know that I would be forgiven for this very valid lapse.

— Lalit Raizada is a journalist based in India.

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