Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Games Children Play


  “You are the bad guys. You will drop the bomb and then police will come. Got it?” I hear Saif's instructions crashing in through the window of the dining room where I sit and sip Yemen’s special mocha coffee.

Bomb? Police?  Sounds familiar. I peer through the window. Mobby and Omar are carrying bombs, aka footballs, that they have to drop somewhere. They are trying to mimic menacing expressions. They don’t succeed.

“What kind of game is this? Can’t you play something nice?”

They look at the frantic woman standing behind the window and laugh.

  “We are playing Tabliban, Talibaan. We will drop the bomb, police –Zainab and Roshan- will come but they won't be able to catch us,” Omar outlines the rules of the game for my information.

“And then I will come and capture all of them. Because I am really powerful,” Saif tells me how the game will end.

“And who are you supposed to be?” I ask.

“I am Raheel Sharif,” Saif says and they all run away to begin the game.

I wonder about their new heroes. And I wonder how insidious are the narratives that get reflected in the games that children play. And then I wonder some more about how quickly the new national narrative is built.  Or is it the old one? Rehashed, re-packaged?

I don’t understand much. There are things I am not good at. But I am getting better at brewing a perfect cup of mocha coffee. Some Consolation.