Late seventies, I think. I don’t recall very well and none of those who recall are at hand for me to ask.
I think, it was the day Emergency was declared in India. So, maybe 1977. I was five or six, then, assuming it was 77. Schools closed in the middle of the session and we were all asked to go home. There was a general state of panic. Our school rickshaw (as against a school bus) obviously wasn’t there. My sister and I had an option either to stay back at school or find our way home. For some reason, we chose to find our way home. It must have been our response to the panic we saw in the school. We thought we’d walk back. I was confident, I knew the route. So we started towards home and somewhere in between I lost my bearings. The distance between our school and our home was not much; about 5 – 6 kms.
Suffice it to say, in the days when mobiles didn’t exist (we didn’t even have a landline), we walked a bit, flagged down a local rickshaw and made it home. Much happened during our way back home as my mother was calling our school, and my father.
We didn’t have enough money to pay the rickshaw, which was paid by the neighbours. Mom was out (looking for us) so we stayed a while at our neighbours’ house. After a while, our parents discovered we were home. They came back.
For the life of me, I cannot forget the expression on my parents’ faces when we got home.
I dare not imagine, what’s happening with the parents, in Peshawar, Pakistan. The words: wrong and senseless keep resonating in my head. If ever the phrase, “I wish this wouldn’t happen to my worst enemy” ever made sense, it is today. Our countries have had wars between us: direct and indirect; open and proxy. We have openly hated each other. And that’s fine. Yes, I said that. That is FINE. We did that as adults knowing where it will lead to and we paid the price and are willing to pay the price.
The incident has nothing to do with India and Pakistan as such, yet, whatever your grouse, take it to the people with whom you have the grouse.
CHILDREN SIMPLY CANNOT BE A PART OF IT.