*By Panchami Manoo Ukil
Day before yesterday at night, as I was walking Perry, my pup, a cracker went off somewhere outside. The little one scampered in as fast as he could and hid under a table refusing to come out. As I pulled him out and held him close I could feel his heart thudding. He was traumatised for hours after that and the next morning was reluctant to step out. [I remember the troubled Diwali days that we encountered for 11 years because of our last dog who was traumatised by the sound of crackers to the most unthinkable extents. From hormone odorisers to sleep medication, we tried everything but to no avail. The 3-4 days of Diwali were sheer hell not only for her but for the whole family as it was unbearable to watch her trauma.]
That morning I was at the Mayfair patisserie. Little Tiara, all of 7 years, came in with her mom and noticed the message on the board near the counter. She told her mom that the message should have been “Happy Cracker Free Diwali.” Her mom said that she would have the words “cracker free” added but the child was reluctant to wait and kept declining offers of dessert. Finally she picked up a chalk, wrote her own message at the bottom of the board and only then turned her attention to the goodies.
Yesterday I read my friend Rituparna’s Facebook status about her 7 year old Samaira explaining the concept of burning Ravana on Dussehra to a non-Indian friend. This is how Samaira put it:
“They really put fire to a guy … who they think is a demon … kind of blow him up … and then make merry … and clap and say Happy Dusherra to each other!!! Weird but that’s how it works!”
I think our schools do a fine job of inculcating the ethics of celebrating a cracker free Diwali and organic Holi. Year after year, our young children make posters on these themes at school and listen to their teachers tell them about pollution hazards. They are also told about the intense trauma that hits animals and birds because of the high decibel noise. These ideas get deeply etched on the impressionable minds and manifest in reactions that occur whenever they see any deviation. This is my personal experience with my daughter.
We rue the fact that this generation is technology driven, glued to screens and monitors and thereby less sensitive. Yet, as parents, are we concerned enough to encourage any form of sensitivity that our children express? Why must “say no to crackers” be confined only to school sloganeering? Why as parents do we indulge them with an idea of celebration and fun that inconveniences others? Why can’t we do our bit as parents to raise a more tolerant and empathetic generation?
As my friend Rituparna says – “There is a God in every Child and their words! Maybe time we paid attention.”