Lands and Lads.

One of the interesting things about being an intern and having a boss who is attending school is the ‘school talk’ that you can have with her… all the bitching about professors and the overwhelming assignments, signing off two years worth of weekends and pretty much your life to grad school, and classmates who get into trouble for breaking rules. The other things you hear are snippets of stories that profs hand down to students. One of such pieces was from a professor teaching a class on real estate. In the introductory hour, he narrated how people owned and claimed land long before any kind of judicial system was in place.

Every household had a shoeful of babies, specifically sons, to carry on the family’s name in the event war, disease or other unforeseen circumstances claimed some of them. At the age of about five, the youngest son would be taken to the farthest point marking their property’s border (a tree or landmark of some sort) and beaten!… yes, whip-lashed till the memory of that landmark was etched into his mind. This was repeated ritualistically till the child could identify every detail of the landmark at the vaguest of times. Thus, this child became the ‘keeper’ of the family’s land records. When enemies invaded, they went after all the young children, killing them and consequently claiming the land as their own.

Who would have thought being born last could be such a curse?

Circa 2000, what would be the fate of parents who gave their children ‘a sound trashing’ to ‘set them straight’? They would probably be prosecuted for child abuse. It’s funny though, how back home a beating or two is considered to be part and parcel of parenting. Sometimes even essential to it.

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