It hasn’t been easy looking at the newspaper for the last few days, for any of us. It’s as if the universe is unraveling at its seams, with tragedies unfolding around us at a pace maddening, it’s as if we are being sent a sign: you are not safe, your child isn’t safe, your world isn’t safe. It’s as if we live in chaos and mayhem and there is no rule of law. Our illusion of invulnerability and protection stands shattered. Those of us who looked for lead-free paint for our baby cribs, sterilized their bottles and feeding cups, wonder where we went wrong.
Our children are bullied, victimised, traumatised, and heaven help me, unsafe. I can feel a catch in my throat as I write this, a heart that seems to want to rip out of its bony cages, and I haven’t even begun to use the ugly words of rape and murder that our already common parlance.
Mothers are holding their children closer to their chest, holding their hands that much longer, and peering at their departing school buses with a strange suspicion and foreboding. So am I, so are you, and so is everyone else you and I know.
It is time we all took a deep breath, a really, really deep breath, and let it go. Really.
Tomorrow is not a day different from last week, or the week before that, or the year before this one. We are still the same people, still the same school, still the same country, and still the same world.
Are we vulnerable? Yes. Are we unsafe? Yes.
Are we more vulnerable, and more unsafe than we were two weeks ago?
No. The answer is a resounding no.
Should we brush what happened under the carpet and carry on as if nothing has happened?
No. The answer is yet another resounding no.
Do we become apathetic and unresponsive and desensitized like the powers that be?
Yet another no.
Do we no longer think of the parents who find that their kid comes home bleeding between the legs, or doesn’t’t come home at all?
What we do, is we become cautious and avoid situations may seem threatening to us, and confront them only after regrouping our energies. We ensure that we talk to our children and all the primary caregivers, all the stakeholders that are to make sure that our children thrive, physically and emotionally. But we also ensure that we do not let our fear turn into paranoia. What we do is turn proactive, learn to be better mothers, and daughters, and wives, and friends, and citizens.
We promise to do something positive and hopeful and wonderful tomorrow morning, and follow through on it. So tomorrow, after you send your little boy or girl off to school and feel a lump in your throat thinking of the mothers who will never have the privilege of doing that for their little ones ever again, do not turn to Facebook to post your anguish. You are feeding a fear for yourself, and for mothers like you.
Instead, find the time to plant a sapling in the memory of the boy you didn’t know, or buy a dozen bananas and give to the girl who was begging on the street. It has iron, and carbohydrates and all kinds of wonderful things which will make her stronger. Buy a pack of sanitary napkins, or maybe five, and give them to the adolescent who turns tricks at the traffic light. Go and donate a packet of new clean underwear for a child who may not have access, ask your domestic help if she needs it for her kids. Or go to SOS Village and foster a child, or find a NGO you can trust or read a story out to the kids at the local shelter. Or at the temple, or mosque, or church, or wherever.
And promise to do it every week, every month, if not every day. And fill the Gurgaon Moms newsfeed with tales of happiness shared, and hope, and love. And of smiling faces of children not your own, but touched by your love.
There is so much you can do. There is so much you already do, as a woman, as a mom, as a human being. Push yourself to do a little more; you are more powerful than the sea of negativity and hopelessness around you. You are more than the sum total of all that you’ve been told you are. You can create life out of nothing, find in yourself to give a little love, more than usual, to those less fortunate. And while you are at it, to those that you love best.
And between you and I, and the twenty thousand strong force that this community is, we will make our world a better place, a safer place, a kinder place.
One day at a time!