I am in the kitchen boiling milk. Ammu and Kuttan are at the dining table having dinner. I am totally lost in my culinary world when I hear this from the hall.

‘I will not talk to you. You are bad because you are brown!’

I come running from the kitchen. I am so angry. Sad. Helpless. I really want to give a piece of my mind to the one that said it. Thankfully, I regain my sanity.

‘You are brown!’

The words were uttered ignorantly. That much I gauge. But, I don’t know how to react.

Where had they heard this? Did I inadvertently play something along these lines on the TV? Did they learn it from school? Will four year olds talk such? Is it the parents who have taught them this? Or is it the media? Why should this colour war strike so early? Why should this colour war strike at all?

My head is reeling. I sit down for a few minutes composing myself. Then, I decide to speak.

First, to Kuttan. I tell him that brown is just another colour. That I am brown too. That he is brown too. That brown people are not bad. That it doesn’t matter what colour you are; being good is primary. I don’t know how much of this he assimilates. In between, I ask him where he heard this. From my friend D, he says. I’m sure he said that in jest not knowing its implications. I also know that this thought process of his needs to be corrected.

I speak to his school teacher. She says she’d use a story to tell them that all colours are good.

This brown incident though keeps repeating itself. It happened again yesterday. And, I gave him the same morals. That, colour has nothing to do with being good or bad.

I’m sure I can’t shield the kids from this whole colour debate. This, I’ve known from the time they were born. All I am trying to do is make them understand that both of them are the same, at least to us, irrespective of the colour.

And, this, I shall repeat. Like a parrot. But, I can also see that there is a long way to go!