The Innocence of Childhood

On Tuesday evening, I cooked a vegetarian broscetti bolognese for me and the girls (Kara couldn’t say spaghetti when she was younger and her version has stayed with us). It was a roaring success. It has been a long while since I’ve seen Abi eat as much as she did then. She also did well with the dahl and rice I dished up on Wednesday. To celebrate her newly found appetite, this Saturday, we went to watch West Ham beat Sunderland. Beforehand, we ate at Europe’s first Asian shopping arcade. I rather liked it; as we walked in we were greeted by a DJ playing the latest Bollywood hits, and the girls loved the very expensive looking Sari shops. Best of all was that I had a gorgeous Masala Dosa and the girls had some excellent curly chips and two delicious oriental influenced milkshakes. Abi ate well again too. Before our meals were delivered, Abi and Kara had fun playing with a little girl and her even smaller brother. They pretended the menus were maps and went looking for treasure. Then they raced in and out of the tables. There was so much laughter I think everyone there enjoyed the spectacle, but an officious security guard spoiled it all by asking me to stop the children running around. Health and Safety Executive at large, I reckon. Pah! I suppose he was just doing his job.

While the children were playing, I became aware that I was the only non-Asian in the shopping centre. I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable, but I thought that was rather sad. Was it a reflection of the divisions caused by the current UKIP-inspired anti-Muslim, anti-immigration sentiment prevalent in the UK? I also noticed that just about every female wore a veil. They were much more unusual a decade ago. I wonder why the change? Was it a yardstick of an entrenched community and a far stricter interpretation of the Koran? Then it dawned on me how innocent Abi and Kara are; completely untainted by racist bigotry and hysterical Daily Mail headlines. They don’t see Muslim. They just see other children with whom they can play games. That pleased me immensely. If only the rest of British society was like that.

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