May a good source be with you.

Explain It To Me Like I’m A 10-year-old

Explain to a child how Indians are people who deserve the best life whereas Pakistanis, who look, feel, laugh, hurt just like us, deserve to be exterminated.

There was a death in my family last week. A beloved uncle who was also a younger brother, a father, a husband… a man who always made me smile and feel loved was gone forever. As soon as the news came in, I wanted to stop everything and cry. I did cry. I felt something stuck in my body that I wanted to express – maybe a scream. I wanted to disrupt everything, tear away from where I was and reach where his body was. I felt that the world must stop and grieve now.

Then I had to break the news to my children, who were near me. First I told them what had happened, my voice barely a whisper. Each child had her own reaction. One clenched her fists, one looked stricken, one silent and numb. I felt compelled to reach out to them. “It’s okay, beta, he had a good life,” I started. “He lived well. He was ill, it was time for him to go. Just like babies are born, older people have to die. He is at peace now.”

I wasn’t expecting it, but my words had the most soothing effect on my own self. My own distress eased. I realised I could calm down. It was not necessary for me to externalise my grief.

I have a recommendation to make to people whose reaction to the terror attack on the CRPF personnel in #Pulwama is to bay for the blood of Kashmiri Muslims and Pakistanis; whose grief and anger is making them want to see retaliatory action; who want other unrelated people to be hurt to somehow assuage their own distress; whose anger is suddenly aroused and is demanding violence.

Try explaining this to a child you love.

Explain to your grandson how a war on Pakistan – that will lead to the deaths of more soldiers – will benefit the widows and orphaned children of those CRPF men who are already martyred. Explain how wars in the past (long term, short-term, limited, nuclear, whatever…) between India and Pakistan and between various other countries have led to peace for any one of the countries involved. I’m sure you know the history of the 20th century.

Also Read: So What If I Am A Muslim? So What If I Am A Pakistani?

One very respectable person on my timeline wants no Indian to wear Pakistani suits or read Pakistani authors again. Her friend assures her that she has stopped watching Pakistani serials. Explain to a small child you care for, how you know that the best Pakistani authors are actually members of terrorist organizations and how their book sales leads to terror attacks on Indian people. Elaborate on how crippling Pakistani exports to India will hurt small traders, increase smuggling across the borders and eventually lead to a chain of events that will ensure that all terrorist training camps are forever destroyed. Or even temporarily inconvenienced.

Explain to a child how Indians are people who deserve the best life whereas Pakistanis, who look, feel, laugh, hurt just like us, deserve to be exterminated.

While you are at it, tell someone close to you what happened in 1947, 1984, 2002 and how the targeted attacks on Kashmiri Muslim students throughout Indian small towns like Dehradun, Ambala and others will lead to a dramatic change in the hearts and minds of alienated Kashmiri civilians who have lived with violence and humiliation in their everyday lives for the last few decades.

Explain what you have in common with the young men of the Bajrang Dal who are terrorising Muslim girls in their hostels and holding them accountable for the deaths of CRPF security men. Encourage your own 10-year-old son or nephew to grow up and join blood-thirsty mobs in the service of the Hindu nation.

Go on, look into the faces of children you love and use words to express your helpless rage, your inarticulate despair. You might just end up finding vestiges of rationality in your own heart.

Maybe you will want to protect their innocence. Maybe their innocence will protect you.

Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and author of the books ‘My Daughters’ Mum’ and ‘Immortal For A Moment’.

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