There were signs but I didn't realise how seriously affected my little 5 year old has been by Mr Raj Thackeray's actions.
His anti-North Indian rhetoric hadn't filtered down to our young ones for obvious reasons. I mean, we do discuss politics at home, but this was way below 'dirty politics' and deserved no mention at the Dining Table for sure. Why kill your appetite over such despicable and simply pathetic individuals?
But then, one day in early November, my children learnt the name Raj Thackeray. Their school picnics were cancelled one morning owing to incidences of bus burning and stone pelting in Pune, although for the umpteenth time since Thackeray began his tirade, for the first time for my children who took prompt notice of him.
As my son stormed back, despatched home by the class teacher, with the picnic goodies untouched in his bag, unhappy over the cancellation, he exclaimed loudly, "Mama, my picnic has been cancelled because Raj Thackeray is burning buses."
Clearly, the teachers may have been discussing the ramifications of taking the children for a picnic while 'buses' in the city 'burned' due to 'Raj Thackeray', the little one it seems, only picked the key words!
The cancellation of his picnic was related to everyone. Calls were made to the grandparents in far off Kerala to tell them why the picnic was cancelled. "Raj Thackeray is burning buses" became a common refrain for my heart broken kids until the picnic was eventually planned after a fortnight.
In the mean time, his older sister had shown him photographs of the notorious gentleman!
The second time we heard the name was during the terror attack in Mumbai on 26/11 as we sat glued to the laptop watching the proceedings LIVE on NDTV.
Anger gave way to consternation and shock. One evening over dinner, the hubby said, "I wonder where Raj Thackeray is now. Will he or his men come to the aid of Mumbai?"
While I nodded my head, a small voice exclaimed, "Papa, Raj Thackeray cannot come to help Mumbai. He is busy burning buses na..."
We laughed over what seemed funny to us, but the little fellow was in no mood for humour as his eyes remained glued to the screen watching the scenes of devastation.
The third time I heard the reference to Raj Thackeray has actually left me stumped.
We were taking a short beach vacation with friends. After long hours of splashing in the water, he came back to the shore. We sat together and started making sand castles when he startled me with, "Mama, I saw Raj Thackeray."
"Hmmm... Really? Where was he?"
"He was in the water, playing with the ball."
I recalled a guy playing with a ball quite close to us in the water. I must admit, the resemblance was a bit uncanny... But....
"Mama, he forgot his glasses at home."
BOING!!!! Yup...the man I saw was not wearing glasses!
My son seems to have been traumatised by Mr Raj Thackeray himself. What am I to do? Any words of advise?