A teacher comes back to the classroom after a few words with the school principal. She finds her class in complete disarray. Two of her students are embroiled in a physical tussle. The smaller one is taking in blow after blow and seems completely helpless. The larger one is relentless and the upper hand seems to be giving him more courage by the second. The teacher recovers from the initial shock of the scene and moves quickly to calm the waters and enforce some discipline.
It turns out that the two kids were arguing about God. The nature of the argument takes the teacher by surprise. It is a strange argument for thirteen year olds. ‘What has the world come to?’ the teacher quietly whispers to herself. The larger kid insists that God does exists while the smaller one insists that God does not exist. The two had taunted each other ever since the teacher left the classroom. They finally decided to settle their differences physically after their words produced an even outcome.
Now, it so happens that the smaller child was a trouble child and a peculiar case for the teacher. He could not fit her bully profile since he was always the one picking up fights and being beaten. She did not know how to deal with such a student. It was not in the teacher manual book on how to handle troubled kids. Then one day she noticed a drawing by this very kid. It was not a good drawing but the teacher could make out monsters, blood, carnage all over and a helpless victim cowering from the monsters.
‘Oh God,’ the teacher says, ‘you poor thing. The monsters have troubled you, haven’t they?’ The kid looks at the teacher with contempt. He cannot get over the fact that she just said ‘Oh God.’ ‘Mindless and ignorant,’ the kid whispers to himself, he looks up and says, ‘It’s just a drawing.’ The teacher now feels that she has found the root of the problem. She goes on to tell the boy that monsters do not exist and that he should not be afraid. The boy quickly remarks, “I know. As I said, it is just a drawing. Monsters and God do not exist.” The teacher gives up. She decided to call his parents the next day to discuss the issue.
The teacher makes the call and realizes that the boy only lives with his father. She asks the boy’s father to come to school the next day and he does so. He is even on time unlike most parents. They discuss the issue and all seems well. She concludes that the boy is suffering from fear of monsters due to his father’s service in the war. Her last note in the kid’s file is “The love for his father makes the kid scared of monsters and a rebel against a society that sent his father to fight those monsters” How wrong we can be at times. Our demons and monsters are usually closer to home than we allow ourselves to believe.
The matter is resolved, at least for the teacher. She can now tell her fellow teachers of how she found the underlying cause of a complex problem. However, the end is far from over for the kid. He knows what is in store for him at home. A thorough beating awaits him as well as an entire evening of his father telling him about how stupid of a son he is. His father decides to begin with the lecture but not before having a drink or two, or three. Then, the beating begins. The son knows the drill. His father never hits his face. The teachers will ask questions. His father begins with blows to his stomach. The blows are so hard at times that the boy cannot breath. Then his father gets his belt and begins working on his bottom. It is excruciatingly painful. The boy can do nothing. This is life. There is no God. There is no monster. There is only his father and he is only a son who must endure what life has in store for him.
Then the following day, his father decides to bring home a prostitute. It was not the usual prostitute this time. This one was more skimpily dressed than usual and she drowned her face in makeup. Surprised to see the boy, the prostitute asked if they could go somewhere, like a motel. The war veteran quickly refused. To him, that would mean more money and less time. He did not even wait to get to the bedroom. He just began fondling her right away. She felt embarrassed, quite odd for a prostitute given the nature of her work. She insisted they go to a room but the father quickly retorted, “He is a man, how else will he know what to do. If he feels awkward then why should I leave my living room?”
The boy quickly leaves the living room and moves outside the house. It is important for you to know that the pair lives in a house that only has one bedroom and the kitchen opens up to the living room. Where else can he go, to his father’s bedroom? The kid knows better than that. Why seek out another beating when he can barely sit after yesterday’s events? It’s either go outside or go to the bathroom. The prostitute tries to talk some sense to the father but a quick hard slap reminds her of her place. “A prostitute with a conscious,” the man laughs, “this ought to be fun.”
The kid spends some the entire night outside. He is tired, hungry and still sore from the beating he received just the other day. He then sneaks back into the house, takes out his drawing book, collects his crayons and goes back out. He starts drawing up monsters. The skimpily dressed up prostitute walks out of the house into the morning sun. She sees the boy and immediately feels embarrassed. She tries to pull down her skirt but there is barely enough cloth on it to pull it down any further. She moves closer to the boy and sees his drawing. She takes up the drawing book and looks at his other drawings. Then a bout of sadness overcomes her.
“Your dad is the monster, isn’t he?” she asks the boy. She then says, “You are a brave boy.” She then tries to lift him up off the floor by taking hold of his hips but the boy immediately cries out in pain. She lifts up his shirt only to find red swollen patches on the boy’s body. She is heartbroken. “He will kill me, it’s only a matter of time,” the boy says. She just breaks down in tears. How could a child be thinking of such terrible things at such a young age?
Then, a noise alerts both of them from inside the house. The boy’s father is cursing. The war veteran is out for blood. Apparently, the prostitute took more than her fair share of money. Startled, the prostitute lets go of the drawings and prepares to run but the boy holds on to her hand. “Take me with you,” he says. The boy’s father gets hold of a bat and inches closer. “Please take me with you, monsters are real” the boy begs. The prostitute looks at him and then at the mad man approaching and she decides to make a break for it. In a last act of desperation, the boy grabs hold of her, looks her in the eyes and says, “God is real. He sent you to help me. I know he did. Please do not leave me. My dad will kill me.”
The prostitute pauses. She asks herself, “Is God really real? I’ve been through it all, is this my turning point? Did God send me here?” The boy’s father opens the front door and starts swinging the bat. It is now or never. She had better make a run for it or she may end up dead. There are no police investigations when it comes to prostitutes. She looks at the child and in a split second, her entire life flashes right before her eyes. In this moment, she says a silent prayer “There must be something bigger than this. This child has done nothing wrong. Monsters are real because I have seen them. God is real. I can feel Him. Please God, help me” And, in that moment there is peace.
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