Monday, March 24, 2008

Fiona's Foibles

“I can't do that darling because I don't believe it is true. The report from the headmaster of the primary school where her younger children were educated was that she was an excellent caring mother”.

My English friend Jill Cadman, who wrote the above to me, is perhaps the best example I have of what goes to make a caring good mother. Her total devotion to her children, even when she is in India, her tears and joy, for the ups and downs in their lives, although they are all over thirty years of age, has always made me feel, that her children were perhaps the luckiest in the world to have a mother like Jilly. Naturally, wrt the present hooo-haaa about Fiona MacKeown, the mother of Scarlette Keeling, raped and killed in Goa, I asked her what she thought about it. The above quote seems to make Fiona the opposite of what I believe she is – an irresponsible mother of a 15 year old.

I am not the only one who thinks so. Amrit Dhillon, who writes for British newspapers from Delhi, says in Out There, Alone, Outlook Magazine, March 24, 2008, “as in the case of British teenager Scarlett Keeling's murder in Goa, the Indian media was so busy bashing the Goan police for their disgraceful cover-up that they lost sight of Scarlett's mother's appalling negligence.”

She goes on to say further – “Criticizing Fiona MacKeown is difficult. She has been resolute and resourceful in uncovering the truth in the face of callous indifference from the police. Throughout her ordeal, she has remained calm and dignified. But what possessed her to leave 15-year-old Scarlett alone in a foreign country—in Goa, while she set off to tour Karnataka? Parents try to find a balance between their urge to protect their child and their child's demands. But there was nothing to wrestle about on this one.”

As per my friend, Jilly, Fiona “ has to live with the terrible truth for the rest of her life that she should not have left Scarlet in Anjuna while she went traveling with the rest of her tribe. It was an error of judgment based on trust and the persuasive qualities of a well loved 15-year old.”

She goes on to say- “ Believe me 15-year olds are very persuasive in the West.” Yes so does, Dillon agree “It was a perfect example of the crisis that currently assails some British parents, as well as some Indian parents too: the inability or unwillingness to impose their authority.

The results of this laxity in Britain can be seen everywhere. Aggressive, unruly, malignant yobs with no fear of parents, teachers or any adult. Bad parenting has risen to such levels that a British school union leader complained recently that schools now had to teach children everything—from basic social skills such as how to hold a knife and fork, to moral values. Schools were replacing parents and the Church.”

So, can we blame the children or must bad parenting finally take responsibility for what it is regularly doing these days.

Dhillon argues – “ Nowhere in the world do you leave a girl of that age alone. Not even at home in Devon, England. Certainly not on holiday in a place where there's no one to keep an eye on her, and certainly not in a place like Goa, especially when you are aware—as MacKeown has admitted to being—that your daughter has got involved in the sleazy drug and sex scene.”

I prefer to go with Dillon, than my friend Jilly, because, I believe that no matter what one says to cover up Fiona’s failing as a mother, she must be held responsible for not taking on the alternative as points out Dillon – Drop out of the trip. How could she have been so na├»ve to believe that a 15 and a 25 -year old with their hormones raging, could have not fallen into each other’s sexual trap, drunk, drugged or overcome by sexual desires. Fiona must be nuts! Or feigning innocence. As if she could not have guessed! How can someone you know for three weeks, become family? C’mon!

Goa’s ailment is obsession with money. More that 50 years have passed. Dirty, ugly hippies snorting coke have spotted its beaches for many years with nothing on but their white skin. Until it was banned. What they could not do in their own countries, they did in Goa and elsewhere in other beaches across the globe.

The Indian Government, the local police the drug mafia and peddler have all gone hand-in-hand. Jilly writes - “ India has disguised it's disgust of our (the west) behaviour in order to attract tourists and their money. The Western lack of sensitivity towards your culture and inhibitions over sex have produced serious consequences”.

Yes, someone has to pay and maybe the Scarlette rape and murder brings forth the national need to make drug trade, peddling and consumption an offence that must be dealt with capital punishment.

While we in India are not going to waste our time teaching inbound tourists how to respect our culture (for if they can read, then they should and must learn what is being a respectable tourist at any destination) we also do not want to waste our time and money on a mother who failed, no matter what she and her children’s School Principal says.

Nor do we have space for escapists who create a menace for us here in India.

“In UK we are hidebound these days by rules, regulations and bureaucracy. I would hate to be bringing up kids today and would probably be living a life as far removed from convention as possible like Scarlett's mother, if I had the courage.”

Thanks Jilly! But no thanks! If it is hard in the UK, we don’t want these parents to come here with their children and create hardships for us. We have enough of our own.

We are clear. We don’t need and want Fionas and their foible.

Out There, Alone by Amrit Dhillon