Many years ago when Technology hadn’t taken over our lives, we lived in the lap of nature among green sheltering trees, and the whisper of wind in our ears. Like other mothers in our village, Mother had her own formula to keep us strong and healthy. It was a tablespoon of castor oil every Saturday morning to cleanse our system from all toxic elements that might have found their way into our system. Every three months there was a de-worming medicine too.
How we hated those Saturday mornings! We would cry and protest and try to hide, but to no avail. Held down in a chair, our nostrils pinched together, the nauseous oil was forcibly poured down our throats. We were starved of breakfast until our first trip to the loo. Needless to say that for most of the day, we were trapped indoors out of sheer necessity. I still feel like puking at the very thought of castor oil.
This was a regular shindig that annoyed my mother and the other grown-ups. They discussed how to put an end to our weekly wails.
“Shove a teaspoon of sugar in their mouths after the castor oil goes down,” someone suggested.
This only made us puke all the more.
Then my father had a brilliant idea. He thought of mixing the oil in a glassful of sweet lemonade to make it more palatable. This merely prolonged our agony. But he was not a guy to tolerate backchat or disobedience.
One morning, substituting for mother, he arrived with the concoction in one hand and a rattan in another. “Here, drink this” he bellowed. There was no escape.
My city bred children today call it cruelty, which would have been reported to the police and the Ministry of Child Welfare.