Yesterday my dad and RD were watching something on TV and something about Pakistan came up in the news.
R had just come back from playing and she was a mess of dirt and muck and sweat. I was screaming at her to have a bath but she stood still watching the news.
Unlike her usual ‘Amma there is soap in my eyes’ and ‘Amma do fast I am bored of having a bath’ she was pretty silent. Thanking that God who decided to zip her mouth for a while, I quickly gave her a bath. She came quietly, picked up her night clothes and as she was wearing them, she asked me seriously ‘Amma why do we hate them so much?’
I was taken aback for a second. ‘Hate who?’ I asked.
R: The Pakistan people
Me: What? Of course not. Who told you we hate them? Have we ever mentioned about it?
R: Well not you and Appa, but there are people in my school and daycare who say Pakistanis are bad. We should always win our cricket matches against them and that they attack us. Pakistan is not in India na? That is why they hate us? Are they all bad people, Amma?
I must admit this came out of the blue. RD and I have never ever discussed India and Pakistan or mentioned it around her, as far as I remember. I must also confess I am pretty neutral to Pakistan. I have no hatred towards the common folks there and I believe an individual’s behaviour does not reflect a country’s behaviour.
Me: No R. They are all just people like us. Just like you play with your friends, they play with theirs, just as you bug Amma while combing your hair, they bug theirs and just as you go to school, they go too.
R: So they are like us only?
Me: Yes of course. Some people make some issues in the name of religion and God and cause confusion among everyone. In 1947 when the Britishers decided to leave us, they just divided India into two parts because they felt it would be easier to manage.
R: But you only say na ‘All Gods are one’. Their Amma didnt teach them this?
Me: Yes. All Gods are one and its just what you believe in at the end of the day. Just because someone says someone is bad, it doesnt make them bad na. Tomorrow if someone says your friend S is bad, will she become bad?
R: No Amma.
She was silent for a second.
R: Amma, you know what. I think I have to tell everyone that Pakistanis are just like us, no?
Me: Yes of course
R: Hmmmm. Ammmaaaa do you think we can go to Pakistan?
Me: Well lets hope we can. Now can we do some English Grammar?
I am wondering what to tell an innocent child who believes inthe inherent goodness of people, about partition and religion. I think I will just keep it for another day!