Fish out of Grey Waters

This week I put the P in PTA and went to see how my baby cousin was doing at school. It was the time of the year when midterm papers were handed out. I happily looked over her shoulder as she proudly showed me how well she was doing. Now, of course a gathering of a whole bunch of Indian parents is always fun to watch, but I needed more entertainment. I decided that reading my baby cousin’s Hindi essay on ‘My Neighbour’ would do the trick. So here it is.

This translates as –

“In our world, good and bad people have been living together. Like Gods and evil men, truth and lies, terrorists and regular people and many more. In this way, humankind has also been divided. Some people are good in mind and body but on the other hand some others are not good by heart. The hearts of such people don’t beat for others and they think of only themselves and they also harm other people, these people are called ‘bad people’ in usual terms.

In my life, I too have met many different kinds of people. I liked the nature of some people and I could not bear the nature of some others. But I’ve never taken what these people say to heart. I’ve never paid any attention to them. A small part of our lives are our neighbours. Some good, some bad. Good neighbours are those that help during difficult times. Bad neighbours are those who are selfish.

My neighbours aren’t bad. We don’t particularly talk much but their general attitude towards us is good.”

And it goes on to give a detailed description of why exactly said neighbours were considered ‘good people.’

Ah, I thought, how naïve, kids these days I tell you!

But I guess, when one is asked to express themselves in their second language, all niceties melt away and what we’re left with is a very plain, distilled form of crude thought. What we’re left with is our base instinct.

We start to navigate that territory with a lens of judgement that appeals to our unconscious self. If we see our world as black and white then that’s how we write about it.

I’ve always navigated in grey waters so I was amused at the kid’s perspective and frankly a little worried.

When I asked why she had chosen to begin her essay in this way, she very matter of factly answered that this is how she began every Hindi essay. No matter what the topic handed to her would be, she would always start like this.

The world – good and evil, love and hate, gods and demons, truth and lies!

The essay could be about the cow, a day at the hospital or even about rain. And yet her stance about good and evil remained unchanged. She stated categorically that it’s exactly how everything is, either good or bad. You either like something or you don’t. And that’s all there really is to it.

Kids these days I tell you!

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