Finding peace through the eyes of a child

2017 was the year of man-made tragedies

By Purva Grover

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Published: Tue 12 Dec 2017, 9:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Dec 2017, 11:58 PM

It's an annual ritual for our little one. At the beginning of December each year, my niece writes a letter to Santa Claus. As her mum, my sister, brings out the box holding tree decorations, the little girl sits down with a paper and colourful felt tip pens to write down the letter. Last year, she had a special request to interview Santa. She'd also asked me if we could carry the interview in Khaleej Times if Santa replied in time. I'd humoured her - I'd speak to the editor about it.

I was curious to know what she'd ask and thank Santa for this Christmas. I was sure she would not ask for candies, or perhaps art supplies.

Yesterday, my sister read out the last few lines of her letter. Here's how it read: "I want to thank you for my family. I want to thank you for Harry Potter books and also for giving us the money to be able to buy them. I want to thank you for my friends. I wish and ask you for peace in the world."

As you may expect, the family and friends bit made us smile; the Harry Potter mention made us giggle. I thought to myself it's lovely that children value money and realise that one works hard to earn a meal, book or gift. But it was the last sentence that left me speechless.

Because when an eight-year-old asks Santa for world peace, it sends a shiver down your spine.

Why, we asked her. "Because if there's no peace in the world, I'd also become one of those children in the newspaper," she said and left to play. "Poor babies," remarked my sister.

2017 was the year of man-made tragedies and it was not just the adults who got affected, children all over the world suffered badly. Grief writ large on the world map. The tragedies didn't seem to end. From Istanbul to London, India to Syria, Libya to Egypt, France to Afghanistan - nobody was spared. Shooting at a nightclub and even at a school. Suicide car bombing and stabbing were a part of the daily vocabulary and not just the headlines. As were air strikes and executions. Attacks at concerts and stations left us numb. Hundreds killed, dozens wounded - we woke up to woe every other day.

As we panicked, protested, screamed, wailed, and hash-tagged, perhaps we forgot that the children grieved alongside.

Sara's (my niece) simple wish made me realise how we'd all been shattered, collectively. Yes, we've faced it together, holding hands. We've protested, said prayers. We've acknowledged that it could have been 'us' instead of 'them'.

And whilst I am glad that the exposure at school and otherwise has made the children aware, I am ashamed to be an adult. Is it not our job to be their shield?

They can grow up, later. How do we protect these babies? Or rather do we even have the capability to? When will we stop failing our children? I don't have answers to these. Because when I look around I see us failing at creating the world we want to leave behind for them. As much as we may try to protect them from the bad, the evil, and the ugly - we can't escape the reality of the times.

But maybe, there's something that is in our hands.

Dear Santa, I too, pray for peace. Here's hoping that the year 2018 brings peace.
We're at the starting line and beginnings can be beautiful, powerful and pure.
So, let us come together to make the same wish. Will our collective voice be heard? Yes, I am optimistic.

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