I take these interactive sessions on art with kids. In other words I go and teach them a thing or two about painting etc.. The kids are generally 6 yrs plus studying in various schools of South Delhi and Gurgaon.
Yesterday, was class with 2 girls who are close friends all of 8 years and studying in one of the best school of Delhi. During the class a conversation happened between these two which left me disturbed.
For now referring to the girls as A and B. The class was at A's house and B goes to the wash room and this is the conversation that follows...
" Do you have guests at home? " asked B to A.
" Yes, my dadu's friends have come." A replied.
"Are they from US or Canada?" B asked.
"No they are from Pakistan."
B jumps and says "Pakistan! please don't take me in front of them"
"They will be terrorist"
"We know them they are friends and they are not terrorist " said A.
I promptly intervened and asked B, "who told you people from Pakistan are terrorist?"
"My nani, told me that people from Pakistan came to Mumbai and killed many at the hotel. Even Nani's friend was killed." replied B
"But all people from Pakistan are not terrorist. There can be bad people anywhere. In India, in your own Delhi there are people who are bad who are doing wrong. In US or in any place there will be good people and bad people ", I tried to put some gyan in the little girl's head.
"Mam, then who are terrorist? Why do they kill?" asked A
"Beta these are people who are unwell in their head, they have lost sense of good and bad, someone tells them and they pick their guns and kill innocent people. They need treatment, they are not normal people. "
"If I take a gun and kill someone, will I also be called a terrorist?" asked B
Now, I knew I had to answer that carefully, so I said, if you surrender say sorry to court, you will be punished, you serve your punishment and then try to be a good human you will not be called a terrorist.
The kids seemed satisfied and got distracted with their art.
But it left me wondering. Today the kids have an information over load. They watch TV sit with adults when discussions are happening and by and by form opinions. All Pakistanis are terrorist, who is a terrorist, can I be a terrorist... All serious and dangerous thoughts and questions that are crossing the minds of these 7-8 year old kids.
As adults, teachers, parents we need to be better equipped with answers and with thoughts that will not prejudice a young mind. I have no clue whether how I handled the question was right or not...
But on the 26/11 anniversary a little girl telling me a Pakistani came to Mumbai and killed her nani's friend hence all Pakistanis are terrorist was a disturbing conversation...
November 27, 2014