“It’s not normal” pronounced Mrs Asher.
“That’s no way to raise a boy” continued Mrs Reuben.
“I blame the mother” concluded Ms Smith.
One mother stood apart from the garrulous clique that stood sentry in front of the school gates. She wilted under their disapproving scrutiny. Infants and younger siblings clung to her skirts. They were fidgety and whined in protest at the hour long wait until the time when errant lads were released from detention.
Mrs Reuben viewed the subject of critique down her nose. “Her eldest was conceived out of wedlock don’t you know?”
“Ooh?” the others cooed.
“Terrible fuss there was. She went away with her boyfriend but I knew just what was going on.”
“It’s not the kind of thing you can hide” Ms Smith gestured a swollen stomach. “That kind of hanky panky leads to juvenile delinquency.” The other mother discretely turned her back on the mime show in an attempt to avoid eye contact.
“But her eldest is not…” Mrs Asher floundered for the right expression then settled on “normal”.
“It’s hardly surprising,” said Mrs Reuben “I heard she had a consultation with astrologers when that boy was a baby.”
“One of those foreigners probably put the evil eye on the boy” Ms Smith proposed. “He cursed our Willy, who dropped down dead.”
“Did he?” Mrs Asher bit on the juicy bit of gossip, “Who told you that?”
“Our Willy” Ms Smith’s confidence faded. “Of course, someone who could make a lad drop dead at a word could make them come alive again to cover up their crime.”
“Never the less, she ran off taking the boy to somewhere foreign with all their funny ways” added Mrs Reuben.
“You shouldn’t let a child mix with the wrong sort” interjected Ms Smith rounding up her own children lest they mix with that other family.
“I suspect she was feeding the child all that strange food that they eat. They eat any part in those parts” said Mrs Reuben who was an authority such matters.
“Feed a boy hearty, plain, stodgy diet. Fill them up I say.” Ms Smith spiced her home spun wisdom with sage advice. “You are what you eat. If you feed boys strange food then they turn out strange. It stands to reason.”
“The diet could explain it,” Mrs Asher conceded as a fracas broke out between the two eldest siblings, the other mother tried, vainly, to referee the bout. “There doesn’t seem to be much wrong with the rest of her brood.”
“Do you think her boy is in serious trouble?” Ms Smith speculated gleefully.
“Like the time he disappeared after everyone had left the conference early to avoid the rush and the boring question and answer session at the end?” asked Mrs Reuben.
“He caused his mother no end of worry.” Mrs Smith “We all searched high a low. Fancy leaving a child behind. That’s neglect, that is.”
“You hardly would have expected him to have gone to talk to the priests.” Mrs Asher pointed out.
“That woman was always talking about being visited by angels and other mumbo jumbo.” Mrs Reuben noted.
“That sort of talk is bound to disturb an impressionable mind.” Ms Smith diagnosed.
“Quite. The boy was bound to need counselling after that kind of an upbringing.” Mrs Reuben advised.
“Or an exorcism” Ms Smith added.
Three released detainees burst out of the school room. They hared across the deserted school yard as though pursued by a greyhound. Their bolthole was the school gate.
“What have you been up to?” growled Mrs Reuben. The boys backed up and got ready to flee in the opposite direction.
“We were caught fighting, Ma” the smallest confessed as though detection were the crime.
“Typical.” scolded Mrs Asher and clipped her charge round the ear hole.
“Just wait ‘til I get you home!” thundered Ms Smith at her cowering son.
The last boy emerged from the classroom and wished the school master good evening. He cheerily greeted the other mother and related how he instructed his teacher about some of the finer points of scripture.
“What has her boy done?” Mrs Reuben asked her boy.
“He’s done nuffink. He stayed for extra religious study, just for fun”
“Just like at the conference at the temple.” Mrs Asher recalled.
“I don’t know how she does it” said Ms Smith.
“Why can’t you be more like Jesus” Mrs Reuben muttered resentfully.
“It’s not normal” complained Mrs Asher.
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