A six-year-old girl returned home crying that a couple of children from her society in Mumbai refused to talk to her because of her faith, and that may not be an extraordinary situation going by the depths of religious polarisation that has come to grip India.
But what the entire society, led by its women, did thereafter is a story of hope in our times.
Mumbai Mirror reported that after the mother of the child shared the disturbing experience on the society’s WhatsApp Group, other families came together and declared that they would not allow such behaviour to prevail in the society.
The children were summoned and advised. It was explained to them that they should have respect for fellow human beings while it was also pointed out that all faiths are equal and that they should treat them all equally.
Some women of the housing society went to see the mother of the child, following which they went to meet the parents of the children who had refused to play with the girl and who had used hurtful language.
They helped bridge the gulf that the children had built among them and engaging with the children, explaining things as they are and showing them the right direction was how they achieved it.
The girl’s mother told Mumbai Mirror that the support her family received following Saturday’s incident has convinced her that her children were “growing up in the right atmosphere”.
“The kids are back to playing together. There is no animosity whatsoever,” she was quoted as saying in the newspaper.
The residents said there are at least two housing societies in the area where members of only a particular community can buy or rent flats. There are many other societies in the same area where it is demanded of residents that they don’t cook non-vegetarian food at home.
They said their society was a “refreshing change” because it comprises residents of all faiths. “Our society welcomes all and that’s how it will remain. The only thing that is not welcome here is bigotry,” said Garima Shrivastava, a resident of Royal Oasis society in Malad West, where the incident took place.