Cruelty is a Human Concept

Have you ever wondered how no creatures in nature, save humans, are capable of cruelty? The most violent animals in nature hunt and kill for food, they don’t do it out of cruelty. Humans are the only species that hunts for “game”, “fun”, “recreation”. And the cruelty isn’t restricted to hunting and poaching only. People in general are cruel and mean, something you don’t see in the animal kingdom.

Take the example of those guys who threw a stray dog off the roof. Or the woman who buried a dog’s litter alive. And I’m yet to mention the cruelty that man imparts on other fellow humans, be it in the name of war, religion or politics. Take the lynching incidents that are so rampant in the recent years or the riots and bombings of the past years. Human beings and their affinity for cruelty never stops astounding me.

And then there’s the cruelty and torture at personal level which often goes unnoticed due to its intimate nature. Between the ages of six to nine, I was undergoing systematic torture at the hands of a woman, who was as sadistic and cruel as they come. It was an experience I don’t wish on anyone. She broke me down, so much so that I can still, even to this day, feel the effects of that abuse. I never felt confident enough to talk about it in too much detail, until today.

What changed today? Well, I was in an argument today, which got heated but I didn’t have a pain at the back of my neck at the end. That is personal growth. You see, for years, whenever I am in an argument of being scolded or shouted at, I get this sharp pain at the back of my neck. This pain is a psychosomatic remnant of the time that woman, who was in her thirties at that time, had me pinned down on the floor with her feet pressing down hard on my neck, for eating a few scoops of butter from the fridge without her permission. And the funny part is that it was my house, my fridge and my butter. She had been hired to take care of me and here she was, breaking my spirit and sometimes bones.

A few years after my parents got divorced, my father realized that he couldn’t spend as much time with me as required and had to hire help. That’s where the woman, Kalyani Das, came into the picture. She was a certified nurse and was interested in a full time caretaker job. She looked great on paper and her initial interactions with me had pleasantly surprised my father. I had no reason not to like her, she had treated me well, something I wasn’t used to, what with an absent mother and all. 

It started out, very subtly, with her imposing rules on me. Like I couldn’t stay out after 5:30 pm in the evening, even though we were living in a close-gated colony which was very safe for kids. This of course passed as care and concern. Next came the rationing of food items. I was always a foodie and my family had indulged me till then. So, I was a chubby kid. She slowly regulated what I ate and how much I ate, putting very strict sanctions on the “luxury” foods, like butter, cheese, meats, etc. And she guised it as discipline and nutrition.

Then came the verbal abuse. I never realized this then but I now know that my low self-esteem has its roots in those days, more than from the abandonment I faced from my mother. Kalyani would call me “dirty blood”, referring to my mother as a “whore” and such. She would tell me that nobody wanted me and it’d be a good thing if “my mother had succeeded in killing me in the womb”.

Then came the physical abuse, the beatings, with hands, with belts, sticks, etc. I’d be beaten up for reasons as innocuous as drinking water directly from the fridge, or stealing a rupee to buy bubble gum. And she’d hit me in places where the bruises won’t be obvious, so that people wouldn’t notice. She’d put a pencil between my fingers and squeeze them together if I answered a question wrongly when she was teaching me something. And she’d tell me that if I discussed it with my father, he would beat me more because I was a bad boy. And I believed her and I suffered in silence.

Since I was chubby before, the weight loss was tagged as getting fit. No one realized that I was being starved. And humiliated. I remember this one time she spit on the floor and made me lick the spit off the floor and I can’t remember what I’d done to deserve that treatment. But she’d convinced me that I deserved the treatment. This one time, when she was hitting me with a belt, the buckle broke the skin of my back and I started bleeding heavily. I still remember how she panicked because she knew my father would kill her if he realized what she was putting me through. She bribed me with an extra piece of meat that evening to hide the fact that I was injured.

I still wonder what drives people to such lengths of cruelty and meanness. I was just a child. I did look older than my age but was still substantially smaller than her. She had no beef with me. She could have very easily done her job without putting me through the ordeals like she did. The constant torture and malnutrition had actually stunted my growth which wasn’t evident because I was always a tall kid, but when my father died and I moved in with my grandparents and was finally treated like a kid should be, my height shot up like anything. 

And my story, while very horrifying, isn’t even half as scary as some of the other accounts of human cruelty that I come across every day. There’s a movie called ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ where the alien life visiting earth has come in with the objective of wiping off the human population to restore the balance in nature. I could relate to that so much because of the kind of things I know humans are capable of. 


  1. Found your post interesting to read. I cant wait to see your post soon. Good Luck for the upcoming update.This article is really very interesting and effective.


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