About a few years ago on one pleasant evening in autumn, I walked the streets of Vidyaranyapura, Bengaluru, in search of my family’s favourite street hawker selling the usual onion bajji, aloo bonda, and chilli bajji. He was not in his regular spot. So, I had to go to option B. With a count of two of each item for the total three people in my family at that time, the option B packed hot bajji and bonda in a paper packet and handed over to me. After paying him, I turned around and had hardly walked twenty steps when I heard a woman admonishing her boy of about six years age. What was she saying?
‘Don’t call me Ammi. Call me Amma or Mom. Only kids of Muslims call their mothers Ammi. Are you a Muslim?’
To give you a background of the place, Vidyaranyapura is right next to M.S. Palya. Now, I don’t know what M.S. stands for, but it is an area with more Muslim residents. Children from both Vidyranyapura and M.S. Palya go to schools in either area, whichever suits them best. Cultural differences are bound to be when children of different religions mingle.
I was right behind the mother-son duo while she admonished him. I could hear them amidst the noise of the vehicles on the road. I could see the left side of the boy’s face looking up at his mother. To me, the boy looked worried. After a few seconds and the mother tugging at his hand, the boy said ‘No…” The way the boy told no made me wonder if he knew what a Muslim is. I bet he didn’t. But the tone of his mother made him think Muslim is something bad, and he wasn’t bad, therefore he wasn’t Muslim. The boy was just calling her a mother. At least he was calling her a mother.
Children hardly know about religions at their young age. They don’t care about it. I am not sure what the elders think when they inculcate the fundamentals of their religions in their children. They want their children to follow the religion into which they are born for no fault of theirs. Okay. At least until they grow up and be able to decide what is good for themselves, the elders feed their mentality to them. But, in this process, why do they teach their children that other religions are bad and only theirs is good? This is not something that happens among Hindus against Muslims. This also happens among Muslims against Hindus. Christians just rakes up the bystanders to join them. Yo! The other two then try to get back their followers. It is a pathetic triangle or perpendicular lines, in whichever way you want to see it. But it is there, retracted as a serpent to strike.