Yesterday, a friend and I were driving back home from another friend’s place and we spotted a bunch of individuals waving guns in the air. For a fraction of a minute, I hit the brakes and we practically shat our, carefully ironed, white shalwars, only to realize it was a bunch of kids playing with guns that, curses be on China, looked very, very real. All of a sudden it was funny. I mean a 3 foot tall human form waving 2 very big guns in the air and screaming at anything that resembles a possible “target”? It’s cute. Especially when you fall for it. But what I fell into, instead, was this constant state of frustration as I realized just how conveniently these kids were being exposed to the gun culture and how the sweet concept of Eidi that was once used to acquire icecream, gurya k baal and possibly chooran chatnis had now transformed into getting funds to “arm” yourself so you can “protect the hood”. Possible enemies: Moving cars, birds, stray dogs and colorful pedestrians. I managed to get a hold of one of these brats and he told me he needed the gun because, “hum jung-jung kheltay hein”. Now a lot of people tend to call me pessimistic. And maybe they aren’t exactly wrong but hey, this shit is 97 miles north of being “okay”. How is it that a child goes out with a lot of cash, gets a toy gun, “shoots” the whole world with it and then brings it home and manages to get away with it? Mom? Dad? Anyone give a damn? Even in the shittiest of Bollywood movies, the dying mother of the very violent, Suneil Shetti/Sanjay Dutt-ish, protagonist urges her son to keep his act together and be good, obviously referring to how it’s not okay to play “jung-jung” with the villain and his infinite stock of respawning henchmen. I don’t have kids, and so, obviously, I can’t be the right person to judge the general quality of parenting in our country but I do know when something is about to go terribly wrong and a kid brandishing a toy weapon and feeling happy about it is just not the kind of thing I am very optimistic about. With target killings and terrorist attacks and hate crimes and what not, the last thing we need is a child convinced in his head that it’s okay to carry a firearm and shoot your best friends with it.
Save yourself. Save the children.
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