“Why is police uncle looking at us?”
I follow the tiny finger and see a clad-for-war policeman pointing his gun at us. Sitting hunched inside his fortlet, the policeman changes the position of his gun in his usual sweep of the roadside.
I turn to see my nephew’s eyes still focused on the huge gun and wonder how you explain terrorism, security and world peace to a two and a half year old.
“He is just looking out for us,” I begin to say but am interrupted by wailing sirens passing by us before I can finish. Thank god, I say to myself, he’ll forget what he was asking and I can think of a better answer.
The sirens also mean that the VIP and ‘route’ blockage, which is the reason for our long wait, will soon be gone and we can be on our way. Small blessings, eh?
Car after car zooms past us as I try to make my nephew count them in a bid to distract him. But he is one smart kid!
“So many police cars?” he asks. I am surprised that he thinks they are police cars because there are no flashing lights which are the usual markings of a police vehicle.
“They are not police,” I say trying to gauge his line of thought.
“Yes they are!” he shouts, pointing at the line of policemen on motorbikes. “Those are their friends.”
Curious as to how a two year old thinks, I ask him, “Are all of these people in the cars and on motorbikes friends?”
He pauses for a while, as he does usually when he is thinking, with his eyes fixed on the same soldier-like policeman across the road. “He is not their friend,” he points to him.
“He is not their friend because…because he has a gun,” he exclaims.
The road is being cleared by now and we hear engines come to life as drivers get ready to move forward.
“Are guns bad things or good things?” I go on as we continue our journey. He starts thinking again and his innocent round eyes stare vacantly into space before he speaks.
“No,” he announces after a good two minutes.
I repeat my question in a different way to get a clearer answer. “Guns are bad?”
“No, no!” he is now excited. “A gun is a good thing. Police uncle uses it to kill the bad people.” I wonder what “kill” means to his little mind, but decide to let that query rest for another day. Perhaps, I am scared that he might actually know what it means.
“But you said police uncle is not a friend because he has a gun. Then how can it be a good thing?” I ask.
He pauses again, thinking, but this great dilemma is too much for his tiny brain to comprehend and he gets irritated. “Show me a truck!” he demands trying to change the subject. I know this is a sign that he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore and start pointing out colourful trucks passing us on the Islamabad Expressway.
I notice that his eye is occasionally fixed on the policemen standing on the roadside at short distances from each other, waiting for their ‘route duty’ to be over. This tells me he is still thinking about the question I asked him.
I could clear his confusion by explaining it to him, but am I sure of it myself?