Warning: This is not a funny article. It is more of the thinking types.
A few hours back, I received a call from a relative of mine, whose son studies in a top-school, here in Chennai. She said, her son had got injured in what she described as ‘color clashes`.
She didn`t have the time to explain ‘color clashes` on phone. And anyways, I had to visit her son at the hospital so I let it go. In the hospital, I saw this boy of 10 years bandaged from head to toe. There were other children also in the room – boys and girls – all grievously injured.
Here is the story I squeezed out of the bandaged boy using my journalistic skills. I have tried to use the boy`s words as much as possible.
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To bring a healthy competition among the students of the school, a few years back our Principal had divided the school into four houses – Red, Green, Yellow and Blue. Everything went on well. For years we fought our battles in the playgrounds or the auditorium.
Everything was fair and square until we were exposed to all these communal clashes. Somebody said Mohammed`s cartoons were in bad taste, somebody said Durga shouldn`t have been depicted on liquor bottles. Somebody was offering a bounty on the Danish Cartoonist`s head while somebody lynching men transporting cows. We kids found your mature games interesting and decided to have our own version of the game.
Thus, the school pupil leader called a meeting of all class representatives and announced the plan. None of the four house members were to respect the others. Whenever you saw somebody belonging to the other house, you had to call names and tease till he/she cried and ran away.
Overtime, students came up with insulting phrases for each house. Reds were insulted when somebody walked up to them and said: “Red, Red…susu in the bed.” The Green house members hated it when the others walked up to them and said: “Green Green, marry the Queen.” The Yellow house members didn`t like being addressed as: “Yellow, yellow, dirty fellow.” The Blue house in turn had extreme disdain for those who teased them with this one liner: “Blue Blue, you have no clue.”
Many a times, there were voices from within the fighting houses to bring an end to all these clashes but nobody heeded. We kept on fighting till we stopped studying and attended school only to clash with those who didn`t belong to our group.
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The boy had finished his narrative. Now he was looking at the ceiling. I broke the monotony: “So, when is all this going to stop?”
“The day the other houses don`t call us names or tease us” he replied.
“But somebody has to take the first step? No?” I snapped.
The boy thought for a while and said, “I agree. But we don`t want to be the first. It won’t look good on our group.”
“What do you mean?” I prodded him because I didn’t understand what he was saying.
“If we are the first to give up, everybody will think we got scared,” the boy smiled as he said. His jaw must have hurt because he grimaced in pain even as his lips parted to show show his teeth.
I got up from his hospital bed, on which I was sitting and asked him: “Why do you get into all these color clashes?”
“The same reason the elders get into communal clashes,” he replied. So saying, he turned his head away from me and closed his eyes. I didn`t have the heart to probe him further.