Now for why I remembered this incident - I have students of other nationalities coming to me for English classes and what they have to say about adjusting and adapting to our country leaves me feeling rather ashamed! These children tell me that they are bullied and discriminated against in every way in their lives here owing to their ethnicity. Racially and culturally too. Their lack of knowledge of English is mocked, their pronunciations are laughed at, they are taught the wrong phrases and words, their situations arising as a consequence of wrong or improper usage is a butt of everyone’s jokes. They are literally taken for rides by our autorickshaw men, maids, cooks, drivers etc. Their nationalities become their first names and they are rarely included in any community events. These kids tell me, they are often taught foul words as substitute for regular words. I personally have had to correct them many times. They don’t understand the words, but they do sense something is not alright, just as I did when I was a child.
In spite of it all, they get up the next day and show up with bright, cheerful faces no matter what! If they continue to fight odds it’s their spirit and that ought to be lauded.
Our kids can be so mean I know. I can’t help wonder why our kids are not endowed with the sensitivity to feel for these kids and make them feel welcome.
Children have a way of picking up negative vibes and hidden tension. Present generation is smarter. They give you in clear bullet points what is not right!
We are a country that believes in the dictum – ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’. We equate guests to God and we are taught to treat them as such. When such is the case, it is a pity that some of us make them want to pack their bags and take the first flight out! One rotten apple tends to make the whole basket look rotten. One rotten remark somewhere and the entire country is painted red.
Treat others as you would want them to treat you, in their country. I’d have wanted that as a child. Which is why my heart goes out to these children. That is the most uncomplicated dictum that we should be living by. Teach children to be kind, to reach out, and to be helpful. Yes all that too needs to be taught.
We ought to be a living example for that first!