“Go on. What can you do”? What we really can do to each other.

Thinking about how people of North-East regions are being subjected to violence and hatred in Indian cities. How they are being ‘othered’ in their own homeland called India.

After we returned home to Brisbane two weeks ago from our overseas trip our still new neighbour greeted us on the weekend with a box of chocolates. Our younger fellow said “Oh, how nice of them! They even gave us chocolates! Not like the other neighbour.”  Then he recalled an incident that is still fresh in his memory  – one afternoon last year he looked at that other neighbour in his face. That man said “Go on, what can you do”. What would or could this little one do?

I have been reflecting on this question and the man’s words whilst thinking how those youngsters of the N-E states must be feeling right now, living in India. Yes, what can we do when somebody expresses their dislike for you through words and their actions? This man, our neighbour, called out loudly to his young daughter when I and kids asked for her name in the backyard. This was four years ago, when we moved into our current house. She was probably six then. “K…, don’t talk to them. They are not like us.” She immediately left the place. My older fellow asked me what it meant. Whenever he saw them my then two-year-old little boy kept asking for their names in his baby language. Thereafter I and my children experienced numerous incidences of intolerance, verbal abuse, threatening looks and stares, gestures, exclusion, avoidance and hatred from them. My children kept asking me many questions. My heart ached. I kept a brave face.

In the later days I told my children yes kids, we are not like them. We are friendly people. We are welcoming. We are loving and caring. We are affectionate. We are nice people  – we even offered the girl’s mother some baby basil plants that we grew in our yard. She refused to look at us and said hurriedly across the fence “Oh, we don’t eat such things.” We talk to everyone. We donate and offer food, plants, clothes, toys, help and money whenever there is a need. We participate in community work. We like to make new friendships. We believe in relationships – with people, with animals, with plants and trees, with nature, with this universe.

We connect. We relate. We like the difference. We love the diversity of life all around us. We don’t discriminate. We love this life and our world.

We don’t “other” ourselves. We embrace. We love. We accept.

My lovely kids, that’s what that man meant. What he cannot do or not doing. What we are doing and are capable of. So, what can you do, my little one? Oh, you are doing a good job, mate – you have a good heart and an open mind. Go on, keep it up!

Cheers, Vinathe Sharma


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