Thursday, 9 September 2010

THE DICTATOR OF JERICHO


Throughout my childhood, I've known adults who, though strict about obedience, were fair-minded individuals. We had our disagreements but I sensed that these folks were basically decent.

On the other hand, I periodically encountered those grown-ups who cared only for their own power and enjoyed lording it over us. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is an excerpt that proves how self-centred and petty some of our minders were.

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Our new supervisor further asserted her authority by organizing a neatness competition. Each of the three bedrooms were given names. One was called Red House, the second White House, and the third Blue House. The scores of neatness points were kept on a chart which Mrs. Parker mounted on the hallway wall. Each afternoon, she ordered everybody to sit for a half hour on the marble floor along both sides of the hallway. Our supervisor then paced back and forth like a drill sergeant, going over each of her self- imposed regulations in excruciating detail.

Mrs. Parker dispensed condemnation for infractions such as having wrinkles in our bed sheets or shoes not put away. She continually brow-beat any inattentive boys for letting their "house" down. This contest seemed to be a farce to me. I did not even try to be neat beyond what it took to keep from getting in trouble. Apart from a few sycophants, who our supervisor lavishly praised, I and most of the others hated this new system. I especially despised it because it cramped my freedom. The competition between "houses" was abandoned after a month. Doubtless, the strain of enforcing this unpopular contest took its toll on our supervisor.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly for more information.