Shadhiya Rahman writes about the children of riots affected fields. They are the most suffering of all such calamities. When they lose their life in a trauma of what they went through, a nation also loses its future some where in a darkness. Shadhiya insists the need of reaching out to the affected kids to help them to get out of their trauma puzzle. Photos taken by Sreekanth Sivadasan
“Blood, blood all around/ Blood, blood on the ground/ Bang, bang and a cry/ Blood, blood I don’t know why?”
After the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December, 1992 in Ayodhya, there were riots across the nation. One of the terrible riots wracked the Bombay city, leaving thousands fled in fear, roads filled dead bodies, hospitals flooded with injured people and homes looted and burnt down. After the riots some schools in Mumbai conducted a program to try to reduce the emotional trauma experienced by the students during riots. Students were asked to write essays and poems and one of the students wrote those lines, above mentioned. And that student was just 11 years old, who witnessed the brutality of the riots.
After 18 years of that, February of 2020, Delhi witnessed a deadliest communal riot in the history of Independent India. Records remains as 52 people lost their lives, hundreds of people injured, many are still missing, families have fled the city, houses were burnt down. Politics of hate made kids in North East Delhi to see in their eyes losing their fathers and brothers.
There are hundreds of children staying in relief camps in different parts of Delhi, away from their burnt home with people who lost eyes, hands and after all their favourite people. There are kids sharing food with others who lost their family. They are worrying about their books which they left behind in their homes when they ran away. There are kids who talked about their neighbors who burnt alive in their homes. There must have been children who saw rioters dragged out their friends and fathers outside and lynched. There are children who don’t know whether their homes (once they decorated with their crayon paintings) is still there or not. They don’t know whether their best friend in school will come to the same school or not.
May be after some days these kids in Delhi will also write some poems, same as that 11 years old kid in Mumbai wrote. They will talk about blood, pain and loss. They will carry these emotional traumas into their entire life. And we, the adults expect everything normal from them who is still there in some shelter camps silently crying.
Children are the most helpless, worst sufferers after every violence or calamities. Without their faults they are forced to live and see the terrific pain, blood, tears, insecurity and most importantly the adults who made these innocent kids to experience all of this. Children are compelled to live in place having communal tensions and political unrest.
H.S. Davale, Leena Damani, Jahnavi Kedare, Shanu Jethani and Sumit Sharma the researchers in Department of Psychiatry, B.Y.L. Nair Hospital, Mumbai explained, in their paper titled Impact of Riots on Children, that Young children may not be able to effectively verbalise their fears and concerns to others, but this does not mean that they are immune to the effects of violence.
They also stated that the children after the violence will display Post traumatic stress symptoms like repeatedly perceiving memories of the event through visualisation or ‘re-seeing’ aspects of the trauma; engagement in behavioral re-enactments and repetitive play related to aspects of the trauma, trauma-specific fears; and pessimistic attitudes about people, life, and the future, sense of hopelessness and difficulty forming close relationships, grow up having issues like emotional denial or psychic numbing, even separation anxiety.
A single moment of violence will possibly influence their entire life. Who they will become have a profound influence in what they are seeing, knowing and feeling when they were kids. So the question is that who is responsible for these. The government? The police? The State structures? The parents? The society? Yes. the answer is the adults. We should make sure that our kids will have a healthy and peaceful life. The kids should write poems about butterflies, flowers, wind, and love, and love again.
Like Martin Luther King Jr said “Hate begets hate, violence begets violence”. Amidst of all this violence and sufferings tell your kids the story of love. Love them more. Reach out the kids in the riot affected places. Meet the kids who lost everything. And show your love. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. And there a generation of love sprouts and spreads.
(Shadhiya is a second year MA Applied Psychology student in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)