Tag Archives: societal condemnation

The Learning of Shame

ON a recent Eurostar journey, I found myself seated in a carriage, judging by appearances, designated for parents and babies.  Little ones cried, were fed and burped, everyone smiled; and if they fussed too much their long suffering parents walked up and down or took them to look out of the window. Not so, the woman travelling alone with a toddler three rows back. Whether from anger, frustration or simple exhaustion, this child screamed for the full two hours of the journey, interspersed with the kicking of seats and the hurling of fists, toys, legs and head at her mother, who worked desperately to calm her. At first passengers were patient, then heads were turned, and finally, as if one, they rose to stare. Not one, mind, offered to help. As if hypnotized, the mother took her child, still protesting, out of the carriage and the cacophony was thus muted for the remainder of the journey, till both returned, drained of everything, ten minutes before we arrived. As we left the carriage, a few kindly souls, fellow travellers, remembering their own attempts to pin a two-year-old child into a confined space for two hours, murmured pleasantries, or helped with her bags, to assuage their guilt. Continue reading


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