Mrs. Yap raised her hand to cane her son for the third time. He had stolen some money from her purse and gambled 'tikam-tikam' with his friends. When she discovered the theft, she had been more disappointed than angry. And he deserved his punishment. 6 strokes of the rattan.
Steven screamed each time the thin cane landed on his legs.
"Enough! What will the neighbours say?" Madam Loh, her mother-in-law and Steven's grandmother shouted at her from the doorway.
"They can say whatever they like. I'm educating my son, not abusing him. He needs this lesson so that he'd remember not to repeat the offence."
"Yes, but what will the neighbours say when they see the cane marks on his legs? They'd accuse you of being an abusive mother. Can't you just send him to his room like you used to do each time he's naughty? And ask the father to advice him?" demanded Madam Low in great distress, seeing the red marks on her favourite grandson's legs.
"He's turned out this way because he's never been caned, Ma. How many times have we sent him to his room every time he was naughty? There've been many times he had told lies. Last week he stole RM5 from his brother's wallet. Just now he's taken RM10 from my purse. Shall we wait until he steals another person's handbag before we punish him physically?"
"But.. but.. he's only a child. All these screaming.. what will the neighbours think? And with his father on a business trip out of the country too."
"Whatever. I'm his mother, he's my responsibility and I'm teaching him a lesson not to steal. 6 strokes of the rattan and that's it. They will have lots more to say if I neglect my duty to educate him and he lands up in jail in the future."
And the thin cane landed for the third, forth, fifth and sixth time.
And Steven cringed each time the cane landed on his legs. He realised his mistake and promised himself never to steal again.
Child, what will the neighbours say if they know that your father beats your mother? shhhhh... keep quiet so that we will not lose face.
Wife, what will the neighbours say if they know that our child is an adopted child? Let's name him 'bin my name' so that nobody will ever know.
Husband, what will the neighbours say if they know that you've taken a second wife? Where am I to hide my face? Promise that you'd keep that second marriage a secret, don't announce it, because I don't want people to know.
Sis, what will the neighbours say if they know that my child has been barred from college examinations due to his poor attendance whereas his parents are both educators? Am I wrong to tell him to stay with his uncle elsewhere instead of returning home?
Oh what will the neighbours say?
Why bother about what your neighbours will say?
What about living by your own principles, and supported by the teachings of your religion?
Why not be brave enough to do what is religiously right, and gain favour before God?
Why would you want to continue living a life of pretences, continuing lying and trying hard to prevent the truth from being revealed as it is?
Is your ego preventing you to do what's right?
Are your neighbours' goodwill more important than your family's happiness?
Aren't your religious obligations towards God and other people more important?
Are we really who we are, or are we living to please others?
What will the neighbours say.. what will my family say.. what will my friends say.. what will my boss say... what will my subordinate say?
What say you before God Almighty?
More lies? More excuses?