Talking to kids about patriotism.


She sat on the kitchen platform, legs dangling over the edge. I moved about putting dishes away and generally pottering around.

“Mamma,” she said suddenly, “Do you know what I want to become when I grow up?”

I looked at her serious seven year old face. I was as used to these sudden questions as I was used to her silences when she pondered and turned things over in her mind.

“What do you want to become?” I asked

“A patriot!” she announced gleefully!

“And what will you do when you become a patriot?” I smiled at her innocent enthusiasm.

“When there is a war, I will become a soldier and fight for my country. Then I will win medals and tell everyone that I am a patriot.”

“And what kind of wars are you going to fight?”

She looked at me in confusion, “What do you mean mamma?  I will go up in the aeroplane and throw bombs on our enemies.”

“And who are these enemies?” I prodded.

“All those people who want to take our country away from us. I will shoot them and I will kill them and then our country will be safe.”

“And where do these enemies live?” I was surprised at her thoughts because this was something we had never talked about before and I was sure neither had my husband.

“In foreign countries like Pakistan and China.”

“Sweetheart,” I said now, “do you know that there is also another way to be a patriot? And that a lot of our enemies live in India itself?”

Her eyes rounded with wonder as she thought about it. “Really?” she asked. “Who are the enemies who live in the country?”

“People who do not bother about keeping the country clean. People who hurt other people because they belong to another religion or caste. People who do not allow children to go to school. People who make fun of people just because they are different from us. People who are cruel to animals. People who destroy the environment by cutting trees and forests.”

“But how can I kill all of them?” she sounded really upset.

I hugged her. My poor innocent baby. “Darling, you don’t have to kill them. In fact I hope you never ever kill anyone!”

“Then how can I become a patriot?”

“You can become a patriot by loving your country. And by loving every single living thing in your country. Be kind to people, animals, plants, the earth. Don’t refuse to make friends with someone just because he or she is a Muslim, or Christian or Hindu or any other religion. Don’t make fun of those who are poor. Treat them with the same respect you would treat the Prime Minister because that is what democracy is all about, everyone being equal.”

She sat in deep thought for some time. Then she wriggled down from her perch and said, “Okay, I am going now.”

“Where are you off to?”

“I am going to become a patriot. I don’t have to wait till I am grown up to become one no?”

“No, you can start right now.”

“Okay. So I am going to start right now. I am going to clear up my room.”


Kids and Freedom!

The prompt for today was, “Giving Freedom to kids”

Once upon a time childhood was synonymous with Freedom. The freedom to lounge around the house on a holiday. The freedom to curl up with a book if you so wished it. The freedom to throw off your uniform and school bag and rush off to play the minute you came home from school. The freedom to play in the mud and get sweaty and dirty. The freedom to yell and laugh with your friends.

But that was way back, long before the age of trophy kids.

Today a kid is supposed to be a perfect robot. Obedient, no questions asked. And woe betides you if you don’t do well in academics. It doesn’t matter if you can paint like Picasso; you need to get into a medical college, because that is where the moolah is.

Holidays? What holiday? Camps and other activities come to the help of parents who have to work and can’t keep the child alone at home. God know what he will get up to!

Eeks! How did you get so dirty? Did anyone see you like this?  What will the neighbours say? They will all think that I am a bad mom! How could you do this to me? It doesn’t matter that you are just four. You have a rep to protect.

See that clock there? Every tick and every tock has to mean something. You can’t just doodle or daydream you know. There are lessons to be done, projects to be finished, and then you have to go for your cricket/badminton/football coaching.

What? You’d rather play badminton with your friends? How do you expect to be selected for the national then? Oh God! This child just doesn’t understand all the sacrifices I make for him.

No! I mean it! You cannot go out and get wet in the rain. Just sit at home quietly and study.

What do you mean that this house is a jail and you have no freedom?


This blog post is a part of #LetsDiscussFreedom Blogathon. I would like to thank Charu from   for introducing me.

I would now like to introduce Cheni Adukia from and recommend you to read her views on the prompt, ‘Your take on giving freedom to kids”.


Freedom? What’s that?

For the first time in my life, I could not immediately begin writing when I was given a prompt. The prompt was , “What does freedom mean to me.” This made me ponder. Why can’t I write about freedom? What is stopping me? Why this block? After all freedom is such a simple word no?

And it struck me that I was scared of the word freedom. Because I truly don’t know what it really is.

The dictionary defines it as the quality or state of being free. But am I really free? Do I really have the freedom to be me?

Freedom to me would be the breaking of bonds. The bonds of my own mind first of all; which stops me from being me by saying, “Oh what will people say? Are you really willing to displease all those people by your decision?”

So okay, I will marry who ever my parents want me to. I will get married even if I don’t want to or am not ready to. And I will stay in a marriage even if it an abusive one, because what will people say?

To me freedom is being free to love who I want, irrespective of gender, as long as I am not hurting anyone. I want the freedom to be able to say to hell with your stupid religious sentiments that create more hate and intolerance and to hell with laws that impinge on personal life.

To me freedom would mean being able to write what I want to, without fear of being penalised for telling things the way I see them.

It would mean the ability to dream, to aspire, even I come from an unprivileged background knowing that there is a chance that my dreams can come true.

Freedom for me as an impoverished child in an ashramshala would be the knowledge that the resources that are my due, reach me and not a minister or government official’s pocket. Freedom would be enough food, so that physical hunger is not a cause for me to give up my dreams to become a better person.

Freedom to me means being free of the constant threat of rape and worse every time I am out late, every time I take a cab alone…. every time I am a woman.

And since I do not know these kinds of freedom in India, I am afraid of being free.


This blog post is a part of #LetsDiscussFreedom Blogathon. I would like to thank Charu from   for introducing me.

I would now like to introduce Cheni Adukia from and recommend you to read her views on the prompt, ‘What Does  Freedom Mean To You’.


Putting others in our boxes

Today as I walked from the library where I conduct my creative writing classes to the auto rickshaw stand, I saw an old couple and a younger woman talking on the footpath. Judging by their body language they were either neighbours or close acquaintances; not family though. That kind of closeness was missing.

They were speaking loud enough for me to hear.

“We go to Dr.A.”, said the elderly gentleman.

“Oh!” said the younger woman, who I guessed to be in her 40s. “Why don’t you go to Dr. B. He is at XYZ hospital.”

“We are perfectly comfortable with our present doctor and satisfied with his treatment.”

“But you must visit Dr. B once. He is really very good.”

“So is our doctor”, said the old man a trifle impatiently.

With that they were no longer in my hearing zone and I went on my way pondering the innumerable times I have had similar conversations in my life.

How many times have well meaning friends and relatives tried to tell me that every other doctor is better than mine; every other home remedy is better than the ones I use; every other place is better to shop at than the one I patronize; every other author is better than my favourite one.

Why do we always try to force an opinion down people’s throats even if we are aware that it makes them uncomfortable?

Why do we need everyone to fit in “our” boxes? Why don’t we like it when other people’s boxes are of a different shape and dimension to ours? Why do we need them to come into our comfort zone even if it means that they have to leave their own?

Is it because we are afraid of them being different from us or because we are scared to be different from them?

What do you think? Do share your thoughts in the comment section.


This post was written in response to the prompt, “Write about an interesting conversation you overheard recently” for Friday Reflections


Friday Reflections is a link up hosted by Shalini at KohlEyed Me and Corinne at Everyday Gyaan. 

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Prompts for 5th January 2018 – choose any one:

  1. Write about an interesting conversation you overheard recently.

  2. “As long as you feel like a victim, you are one.” – Morgan Freeman

  3. Picture prompt – credit (Corinne Rodrigues)