Being a Teenager in ‘Adult’ Political Conversations

I vaguely rememberd the 2014 elections, there were advertisements everywhere with the ‘achhe din’ tune. As a 10-year-old, the elections played no significant role in my life, except perhaps an updated textbook which had the picture of the new prime minister. It had no other place in my happy, carefree life.

As I have gotten older, I have become more aware of what is happening in the world. I read, I hear, I notice the debates on government policies and the BJP and the prime minister – which are increasing both in number and aggressiveness.

For my family, the uncles and aunties of the neighbourhood, even my classmates, these debates are becoming an everyday thing, on phone calls, in real life and on WhatsApp groups. They threaten all the beautiful relationships which have been happy memories of my childhood.

I am being generous by calling them ‘debates’. These are worrying arguments and sometimes even shouting matches which leave an atmosphere of deafening silence and tension. I see sides of people I have never seen before. With my sister and my father being more liberal, and my mother’s side of the family being on the other side of the spectrum, my mother has to act as a mediator, trying to mend differences – her own views getting lost somewhere along the way.

Every time political topics come up, I sigh and brace myself for impending doom. I have stopped opening group chats a while ago. Between relatives who believe every forwarded message and happily pass them along, and ones who are ready to argue and criticise each and every government policy, I wonder, what is the point of all of this?

No one is ready to listen to the other side, and no one is ready to back down. In the end, everyone will go home only to argue the same topic all over again the next day.

Of course, I cannot voice these opinions out loud, because ‘I am too young to understand’. And they might be correct, but I know that these are not a healthy debates. A healthy debate is one which involves checking facts, analysing and trying to understand the other sides’ opinion. It definitely does not involve multiple adults shouting loudly.

I wonder, have all adult conversations always been like this and I was too young to listen and understand? Or is it the result of our current political scenario?

Sara Atnoorkar is turning 16 this month and lives in Mumbai.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty