This article of mine was originally published in mycity4kids.com
Nationality – Indian
Faith – Islam
Identity – Indian Muslim
I am proud to say I am a rational and mature citizen of India.
Because I know (and am prudent enough to understand) that –
– Discussing religion in a mixed group of friends is just ‘not done’!
– I should not be taking sides or condemning any political party which is backed by a religious agenda.
– How to tackle questions (coming from peer & colleagues) such as ‘Does Jihad means killing non-Muslims’ or ‘How come Muslim men are allowed to marry four times’?
– Even though I was a huge fan of Imran Khan but I knew I must not be all praises for him and not Sachin Tendulkar in public.
And because I do comprehend that to hurt somebody’s sentiments (particularly religious) is not a virtue of a good human.
All this sanity and much ‘tolerance’ because during my growing up years in 80s & 90s, things were far more amicable. Media meant Doorshan and All India Radio, where only ‘parliamentary’ language was used and utmost care taken in mentioning Pakistan as ‘padosi desh’.
My best friends have been from Rajput and Brahmin families but religion never played a spoilt sport amidst our silly games.
May be because then, we were more humane than religious.
Merely couple of decades later, it is an altogether different world around us today and sadly my daughter, all of nine years, has to face a lot of music.
– She was clueless when a classmate playfully asked her why doesn’t she go and stay in Pakistan as she is a Muslim?
– She feels uncomfortable when among her group of friends, often while chitchatting, few of them whisper and she could overhear the word ‘Muslim’ in their hush-hush discussion.
– She tries to stay away from two boys in her skating class who were once discussing and pointing at her (thinking she is not paying attention while actually she was) that ‘You know she is a Muslim. Muslims are terrorists’.
Trust me, I am neither being paranoid not exaggerating.
Every time my daughter come sullen face from play ground, I dread another unfortunate question.
I fumble for words when she asks, ‘Mamma, should we go to Pakistan?’
I feel utterly sad.
Sad and miserable and hurt.
Not only because my naive child is subjected to such blatant and awkward conversation but also in purview of innocence being ripped due to unruly spread of communal hatred in the society.
Obviously I don’t go out and scold those kids for saying such things. They only speak what they hear – at homes, from television.
As a mother, I unabashedly put the onus on media for the outrageous journalism they are doing to sell their product, their channel.
What outcome does it bring when channels gather around a bunch of irrational hardliners and make them go berserk on top of their voices, where nobody is listening to anybody and everybody talks rubbish about each other’s faith without any censorship?
News channels attempt their best to sensationalize and scandali
That’s where kids pick things.
I strongly believe that media and journalism need strict monitoring. And as parent we must ensure that ‘Parental Guidance’ tab is ‘on’ what our kids are watching, learning and imbibing from television. Beyond this, it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach and season the young minds about religious understanding of different faiths.
Let’s work towards keeping apart our religious and social belongings.
Let’s create an abode of love, harmony and congeniality.