Down school corridors across the city, words like ‘terrorists’, ‘grenades’, ‘AK-47’ are thrown around easily. And lunch-time debates are peppered with phrases like ‘terror camps’ and ‘corrupt politicians’.
The city’s iPod generation now has a new fascination: terror.
Those three days of 24/7 terror on TV have seeped into their psyche, perhaps to stay there through their lives.
“When I am at school or playing, I don’t even think about the attacks. But somehow, every night, I dream of them. Sometimes I’m killing them, sometime they are killing me,” confides Maru.
Worried parents are not sure how they should tackle the situation. Says Sumeir Chhabria’s mother, Raksha, “I tried to stop him from playing ‘Terrorist, Terrorist’ but realised that all the kids in the building are playing it and the more I try to stop him, the more he’ll want to play it.”
Psychology professionals say this generation will carry this baggage into adulthood. “They’ve been exposed to something beyond their years and it will change them forever,” says Ali Akbar Gabrani, who, as a counsellor with the Masina Hospital in Byculla, works with several city schools. What long-term impact will it have? “This will become a part of the child’s psyche in two extreme ways. Children will either grow up to be more aggressive or more apprehensive depending on their basic personality type,” says Gabrani.
Schools are having a hard time coping with this fallout, too. “They will be impacted in some way or the other for life, but rather than deal with the Chinese whispers that will do the rounds, we might as well be upfront and answer all their questions,” believes Kavita Agarwal, principal of the D G Khetan International School at Malad.
The impact has been immediately manifested in art classes as the drawings on this page clearly show.
Is there any way one can minimise the impact?
“Terrorism has become part of drawing room conversations and part of growing up for this generation. While talking about it is important, the gory details need not be revealed to them,” says child psychologist Urmi Singh. And, she points out, “They’re venting their feelings in different ways because they are feeling insecure. So we have to reassure them that they are in a secure environment and this is over.”