I have always wondered about shielding the child from the gory images flashed across news channels and displayed in full glory in the morning newspaper.
At two she happened to see a group of workers being lathi charged brutally by police men in Gurgaon -I was emotionally charged watching that clip and did not realise that the child was drinking it in-the visuals and my distraught reaction. It made a deep impact- to date she thinks that all violence on the streets is begun by the police. She looks at a benign policeman on the road and asks whom he is going to hit or attack. I have had to stifle my deep bias and insist that policemen are around to help us if we are in trouble, and not only to wield the baton on vulnerable people.
After that incident I have been careful. The child is not into TV watching. So its easy to keep her away from the mess on the news. But she did get a glimpse of the 6-7 elephants that were mowed down by a train in Jalpaiguri district- it was gory and she had vivid memories of the mother elephant and baby elephant we had spotted in the wild, in Kaziranga. She was traumatised by the image and I really regretted that she happened to be around when the TV was on.
She is the one who admonishes us if the TV is switched on and Bakhra( thats how she pronounces the name) Dutt's voice is on. The TV is on for an hour at nine, she is usually asleep by then, is an adult not allowed her news fix, even if its on a crass channel? Apparently not.
But two days back some rules were bent, by her and me. I had got back late, so we had our dinner together, in front of the TV, with the news channel on. She allowed the TV to be on, I allowed the late dinner.
And I erupted with laughter while she was trying to distract me from the news. She knows that this is an unusual reaction to anything on the news. "Kya hua?"
It was pure pleasure narrating the turn of events. Our dinner plates were designated as stations.
Sanah, a group of people sat in the train in Bangalore - see this point, lets say this is Station A.
They wanted to go to Jammu( she knows Jammu well, since half my family is there), lets say that is station C.
At night, when the train passed through Maharashtra, and all the passengers were asleep, at station B the train was made to turn around . In the morning when the passengers woke up expecting to reach station C, they found they were headed back to Station A.
"How was the train turned back?" "Why was the train turned back?" substituted the bed time story. We went into the technical possibilities and political meanings- was a second engine attached to the end of the train that dragged it back to Karnataka, leaving the original engine alone, without a train to pull to Jammu? Was the original engine driver asked to change tracks and turn around? What would these passengers do in Jammu? Why do they want to go to Kashmir and make people who live there angry? Why would the people who live there be angry?
Surely there is a way to mediate news, cushioning the child from the gore and blood letting that surrounds is not really possible or desirable, dont you think? And mediating news on that day was pure pleasure - the dark and intensely cynical intentions of a group trying to hoist and foist their flag onto a people was framed by a story of a train turned back, and made to stand in a corner, metaphorically and literally.