Nothing heals the day like hug up when you get home. Hug up with the baby that is. I have married Stone for life, but he doesn’t have Ziya’s pudgy arms, curly soft hair or baby smell and skin. In a world where almost nothing feels right sometimes, that hug up moment is a brief respite, a imagined longing for all to be at peace, made precious, real and mine.
It’s Ziya’s innocence, her full appreciation when i walk in the door, her ability to completely live in the moment and to give herself to it whole heartedly. I know now why parents try to shelter their children, simply to delay knowledge of the world’s cruelty and lack of care. I want to delay that harsh awakening too, but more importantly i want to prepare her for when it comes.
On what many in our the nation hoped was Wayne Kublalsingh’s last day of hunger strike, I took Ziya to see him, knowing she probably would not remember, but wanting her to understand that at times you have to be brave. She wouldn’t understand the implications now, but she came home and told her grandmother that she saw Wayne, that he was lying down, and that he was fighting the government. She’s two. She’s said the words ‘fighting the government’ and I watched her say them, hoping those and other words would be the ones she needs to learn first because sometimes you have to be powerful.
She might in fact remember and understand, who knows. Yesterday, I showed her a picture of the Hindu goddess Saraswati, playing her sitar, and she ran to get her guitar and to play it, held like a sitar, while looking at the picture. Maybe one day in the future, she will march in the streets or sit at the side of the road and be brave, powerful and fight the government, understanding that at times you have to be strong. Or, maybe, she will be one of the musicians who brought out their instruments to give ordinary warriors greater calm to balance their fighting spirit.
We underestimate children. We let them encounter the world we try to protect them from without necessarily giving them the knowledge they need, without showing them real heroes in our midst, without teaching them the words that matter so that they can be smart in addition to being brave, powerful, strong and creative. Perhaps, if we brought them to witness moments when history is being made or let them find their own instruments to be as divine as Saraswati, they may grasp more than we realise, begin to model themselves on the basis of these encounters, and become better selves than we can hope to be, making a better world than we were able to do.
Maybe Zi won’t benefit any of these moments, but if she’s saying ‘government’, ‘sitar’ and ‘Saraswati’ as she is now, whether her engagement with the world is political, artistic or spiritual (or all three), I think she’s at least being given a fighting chance. When I run home to hug up with her at night, I know her time has not yet come, but when it does and I can’t protect her anymore, she needs to be able to protect herself. I want to make sure that she is prepared.