Pune, Darshan Mondkar: I dropped my book on my lap and looked up with my best WTF look on my face. My 8 yr old Son was standing in the front of me, his hands on his hips giving me an impish look.
“Why do you ask that?”, I enquired a bit hesitantly.
He frowned, “We have this guy Altaf in our class and everyone says he is our enemy because he is a Muslim. No one sits with him anymore and we are going to beat him up tomorrow in the recces.”
Okay !!! This was more serious than I thought it was. And kinda scarier too, especially coming from the mouth of an 8 year old.
“But why do you think that Muslims are our enemies”, I asked him trying to keep my voice calm.
“Dad, we are reading Shivaji Maharaj’s history in class. Muslims came to our country and killed a lot of our people, so Shivaji Maharaj fought against them …. so Muslims are our enemy, no?”
Hmm, this was gonna be a tough one. “Well, Shivaji Maharaj also had a lot of Muslims in his own Army, who fought against the Moghuls. Just like there are a lot of Muslims in our Indian Army fighting for our protection against Pakistan”, I told him.
He seemed to pause for a moment, thinking about it, so I got another chance.
“And British invaded our country and killed a lot of our people, so are Britishers our enemy too?”
He made a face, “No, I like Martin Uncle (a friend of mine from UK who visits often). He is nice. He is not my enemy”.
I smiled at him. “So what do you think now?”
He grinned, “Okay bye bye” he said and started walking off.
“Whoa Whoa Whoa !!! Wait up !! What about Altaf? You and your friends were planning to beat him up tomorrow”, I inquired.
He turned and smiled, “Nah !!! Plan Cancel. I am going to sit with him tomorrow.” My smile grew wider, “But, what about your friends? They will think you are their enemy because you are sitting with a Muslim”
He didn’t even spend a moment before replying, “When I was born, I didn’t have those guys as my friends. I didn’t have Altaf as my enemy either. I think I will choose my friends and my enemies according to what I like.”
He turned and went to play. And I smiled a rather proud smile. Innocent Minds can think the most rationally perhaps.
Maybe, tomorrow he will come back with a broken nose. But atleast he is going to stand for what he believes in and not because of something fed to him.
I wonder how many people here have friends or enemies just because of who they were born as…… Me?? I like making them as I grow based on my experiences with an individual. And it appears, so does my Son.
Disclaimer: This Story is absolutely true with no changes made. I wonder, sometimes, how kids can actually teach us grown ups a lot of things. Perhaps we should have all remained innocent loving kids than growing up into Adults filled with hate.