As a kid, when I was like three or four I used to visit my village a lot. Something about playing with sand and running around with the other kids fascinated me more than the wonderful toys I got to play with at home. So my trips to my village would often start with getting dirty from head to toe, a few bruises here and there and then me being locked indoors and asked not to play with those kids in the dirt. Trips passed by and my stint with the village kids grew shorter with the same story being repeated all over again until some day, I for myself had decided those kids were dirty. By the time I was in 5th or 6th grade, when I went to my village, I won’t even go to play cricket with the other kids in a grassy field, although back home I would rush out to play in the dusty lanes immediately after school.
I remember I loved reading the news paper by the time I was twelve or thirteen. That was vaguely around the time when acts of terrorism were on a rise around the world. Almost all terrorist attacks were organized by Islamic terrorists and the Indian media left no stone unturned in linking all acts of terrorism to Muslims. They were the ones from the planners, to the financers and the petty suicide bombers who carried out the final step. And again there I was caught in the crossfire, my immature mind led to believe all Muslims to be evil, and the effect so devastating that even when I was around eighteen I would look up in suspicion whenever I crossed a bearded man in a kurta.
I was nineteen, in the first year of my life as an engineering student. I dare say it’s around this age most of us think of trying out a few new things and I could generalize the new things into alcohol, cigarettes, and girlfriends. Girlfriend, it was never an issue as far as I was concerned ( ahem!! I am still single) but alcohol and cigarettes, they led to me being branded as a bad boy. Every time I walked around with a cigarette or my mouth smelled alcohol I was lectured on by people , I was explained the ill effects ( like I was illiterate) and worst of all I was branded an alcoholic although I have a drink not more than once a month. By the time I reached my third year every time something wrong happened in college it was obvious that people would blame it on some one who drinks alcohol rather than on one who doesn’t. I even remember one incident when I had to fight saying ‘common he may drink his peg of whiskey but he is no trolley waala’.
Now I am twenty two. For probably the last three weeks I have been following the attacks on Indians’ in Australia. Its been a very sad couple of weeks I can say, young , intelligent and successful as I would brand those Indian students there in Australia were rather brutalized. And yet again the Indian media has glorified Australians as racists. As far as I remember it all started with articles like “Indian attacked in Australia" slowly turned into “Racist attacks on Indians’ in Australia” and today most newspapers read “Racist Australians attack an Indian student again”. I do firmly believe the attacks were directed at Indians, but does that mean we brand the whole of Australia as a promoter of racism? Or do we turn ourselves against every Australian who visits our country.
Had I been fifteen or hot headed as some of my friends I would have hated Australians with all my might, may be I would even kick an Australian to his coffin should I get a chance. And all this thanks to the way our vision has developed over the years. May be the same elderly woman who said Anshu would grow up to get darker was standing besides my mom and had predicted the colour of my skin correctly but I do hope ten years from now Anshu grows up to be a really fair dude. I do hope someday I get the courage to walk down to the village cricket field and play a match although now its more about not having any friends in my native place cause I chose to avoid them. Sometimes I wonder if I was myself prejudiced to the extent that I cast a doubt on every Muslim and at others I think if ever the people who call me a drunkard would look up to me as one of them who has a occasional drink just to freak out. Considering the prejudices I carry after my eyes have seen only twenty two years I don’t really expect the Australians not to be branded as racists but I hope our prejudices don’t turn us into the same bloody racists we hate. Everyone of us has seen the anger in our hearts grow, may it never go wild.