I wished they had made the doors of the room thick enough not to let any sound seeping through. Nor the wad of cotton that I had stuffed into my ears was of any help. The anguished cries of my grand daughter, Kriti, kept hitting me from outside and my eyes were already brimming with tears. I knew the kind of suffering that the child was passing through and my heart bled for her. In my sixty-four years, I had seen several heart-rending scenes of suffering. Not just seen but had gone through a lot myself and I had learned to take them philosophically. No emotional upheavals left me with misty eyes any more. In fact, I had become tougher than I ever imagined possible. You would find it hard to believe me if I told you that the tear-jerkers on the TV leave me laughing uncontrollably. Instead of going insane with anger at urchins pelting stones at the hapless stray dogs, I just smile indulgently at them. The goats arrayed in front of the butcher’s shop watching their kith and kin being mercilessly slaughtered and waiting for their turn with a resigned look do not tug at the strings of my heart any more. The pictures of accident victims make me wonder what their last thoughts would have been when their lives were suddenly snatched from them rather than feeling sad for their dependents. I can’t believe how the efflux of time had made the fibres of my heart tougher. There is, however, one exception. The suffering of children continues to have the same impact on my heart as it did several years ago. Like the other day, I was driving to a star hotel to attend a Rotary fellowship and dinner. It is my considered opinion that the Rotarians and similar socialites worldwide spend as much money on entertaining themselves as they do on charitable projects. Those of you who belong to an outfit like that would know how these bashes are conducted and how much money is spent on them. In order that I reached there in time, I took a short-cut via a slum. There I saw a mother beating her tiny child mercilessly and the child was howling and moving around to avoid the stick. If there is one thing in this world that I hate most, it is the sight of anyone beating a child. The worst part of this particular child-bashing was that no one took any notice of it. I pulled my car to the side carefully avoiding a kitten, got down and rushed to the rescue of the child. I scolded the lady for being so harsh on the child and pointed out to her that she would be behind the bars if she was in U.S. for beating her child. I told her that if the child had done anything that did not have her approval, she should talk to the child and this kind of physical assault would only have a negative effect. I wanted to know why the child was being subjected to such a treatment and the mother told me that the child was asking for more food even after being fed with what little they had and the only way to quieten it was to beat the child and put it to bed. I became speechless on hearing this and was filled with remorse. I gave her Rs.100 and asked her to get something for the child to eat. I got into the car and drove back home as I had no mind to attend the bash after witnessing such a sordid incident. I had always believed that the suffering of an adult was mostly his own making. You might not entirely agree with me there but I could give you hundreds of examples in support of my statement. Just try and get to the root of any adult suffering and you would find that he was in someway responsible for it though he would blame everyone else for it. I mean things like cancer caused by excessive smoking, cirrhosis of the lever through excessive drinking, contracting huge debts through lavish over spending and so on. But the suffering of innocent children is thrust on them. Unlike the adults, they have no means to cope with their sufferings and so endure them in silence. Talking of suffering children, never in my life had I felt bold enough to see a child being administered an injection. Whenever my daughters fell sick, I only went to medicos who never believed in an injection. In the case of my grandchildren, I always plead inability to accompany my daughters to the clinic. I took a decision to this effect after a visit with them to a Doctor when I heard to my horror my daughter suggesting to the Doctor that an injection be given as she found it difficult to administer the oral medicines. Through my misty eyes, I could see my daughter growing two horns when she was making such a preposterous suggestion. Kriti’s suffering was something I could not face. I locked myself in my room hoping that the sound of her crying would not reach me but it did. I could not control my tears. I hoped that somebody would do something to bring cheer back into her life. But there seemed no indication that anything was being done about it. I sank to the floor and held my throbbing head in my hands. I suddenly heard a knocking on the door followed by my wife’s voice to come out. My daughter shouted at me to come out as it was already late. I opened the door and came out reluctantly. Kriti rushed to me and hugged my knees looking up at me with tear stained eyes. She knew that I could be her only chance to stop her from being sent to the school. But I was quelled by the fiery look in my daughter’s eyes and rendered speechless. “It’s her first day to School, Appa. Bless her!” commanded my daughter. I bent down and showered her anguished face with kisses feeling like a traitor and totally helpless.