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A child's reflections on God, secularism

N.J. Nair


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: What do secularism and atheism mean to an 11-year-old child? Each may sound like an enigma, eluding a definitive solution. But the reflections of Gayathri, a class eight student, on these subjects offer a convincing reply and tend to rewrite popular notions.

Her book ‘Marunnu purattan vendi murivundakkunnaal' about God, religion and secularism dwells upon these topics with childish inquisitiveness. The doubts that spring in the mind of every child are doused by the diffidence of the parents and their inhibitions in challenging popular concepts. Gayathri begins the book with the students of her class asking their teacher a doubt about secularism. This leads to a series of questions and tries to bring out the difference between religion, faith, God and atheism. The classroom session in the book has been presented without any pedantic discussions. It is simple and lucid and does not confuse children of the author's age. What is striking is the observation about a revolutionary. To a student's question on whether a revolutionary is one who despises religion, the teacher says “a revolutionary is one who opposes and effaces all caste, creed and social distinctions and strives for equality. Some of them are atheists too.” This question-and-answer session leads to more complicated issues such as caste and cultural divides prevalent in society and the attendant problems, which compel the child author to conclude that blind faith bruises one's mind.

The crux of the book, being published by Chintha Publishers, is about the child's curious observations of society and the world around her.

Gayathri, a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pattom, gives due credit to her parents, P. Babu and P.S. Sreekala, for completing the book. “My domestic atmosphere permits me to think and also question whatever I see around me. The illustrations by Malavika P, a class seven student of Government Gokhale Higher Secondary School, Palakkad, add to the charm of the book. O.N.V. Kurup, poet, will release the book here on Tuesday.

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