A few days back, Moawiz asked Amma,
“We are going to Pakistan. Will there be snow there ? “
“Yes, there will be snow,” said my mom.
“So, there will be a Santa Claus and Christmas there ?”, he asked with a very excited face.
My mom started laughing and explained to him what Christmas is and that we don’t celebrate it. But other people do. And he informed by mom about all the latest Christmas traditions.
“So I won’t be able to play in the snow ?”
My mom explained that snow is not just for Christmas. And that you can play how much ever you want.
After a few days, my mom was telling this to someone over the phone. And the reply stunned me. That aunty went on to say, ” How does your son know so much about Christmas ? Has he turned Christian ?”
My mom got really pissed and clarified that he watched a lot of cartoons, so he knows a lot of different things. And that he is 7. Than we all sat down and told Moawiz not to say something like this in front of certain people because the reaction is very bad.
This got me thinking. When I was growing up, I had all different sorts of friends. Which included Non Muslim friends. And it was awesome. We respected their religion. They respected ours. They celebrated our festivals like their own even when we hesitated to do the same. But who can say no Christmas cookies and Chocolate Hazelnut fudge ? It was a treat to see them wear Magenta coloured Pakistani clothes, arms covered with Mehndi and bangles, eating spicy food and asking for second helpings.
Even in Pakistan, there was a Canadian family who lived right in front of my Khala’s house in Rawalpindi. And I have grown up playing with there kids and the huge dog. I have baked cookies with them and decorated their Christmas tree. I have had bicycle races with them, popped firecrackers on Independence day while covered in Green and White and had Judy Aunty make us the best Strawberry Jam in the world.
Some of the best people I have known, over the years are from different religions, different Nationalities, culture, traditions and what not. But even now there is no acceptance of the fact that two people with different religions can live in harmony and be friends. People will have their kids study in an American or British school because the studies are better. But the minute someone invites you to their Halloween party, its a disaster. Why ?
Growing up abroad has had so many advantages. One of it being that you end up learning a lot about other religions. And you love them all the same. You know your beliefs and their limits, so you know not to cross them. But you also know to respect others and their religion like you would expect them to do with yours. So its give and take.
Have you ever made hot chocolate with real chocolate ? If you have, than you will know that chocolate doesn’t mix with the milk unless its melted and the milk is also warm. So they both have to do their two very different jobs to make one delicious drink. This is not that different than that. Learn to be a little warmer.