Contributed by: Kamzason Hangsing
Dated: 10th April, 2013

Hailing from a state where bandhs and killings are becoming part of life, many a times it kept me thinking whether there could be an end to such a culture. Government has tried with AFSPA, which becomes another excuse for killing and extortion. Various ethnic groups have tried by forming other armed forces in the name of protection and security but ended up becoming the forces of spreading fear and insecurity.

We have peace-keeping forces who are trained to shoot others in the name of Peace. We have spent millions on arms and ammunitions in the name of security which actually threaten security of others. Our religions that preach about peace and love in turn breed honor killings, riots and holy wars. Seminar, Conference and workshops are held in the name of Peace and Conflict resolution, but the participants hardly become ‘a voice’, in fact do not even produce an ‘echo’.

Children may go to school where they are taught the value of living together, respecting each other, etc.. but once back home they have to live within another value system – to not mingle with people from another community,  who is the weaker sex and who is the superior, etc.

Not denying that there is no bright side of life, but the forces of hatred, conflict and crimes are so many in our society and the extent to which they have infected the society make it near impossible to foresee any end to it.

As a citizen born and brought up in a disturbed society, I do think of such problems and about how to put an end to such problems. The search and research for the answer never made me satisfied. However, just recently I came across something that made me wear a smile, and say to myself ‘how easy!!’
It was the letter from Staff Sergeant Clement Baker which describes the legendary football match of the Christmas Day truce during the First World War. On Christmas Eve of 1914, an unofficial truce began after a German messenger walked across no man’s land to broker the temporary ceasefire. Later that day after soldiers went out to recover dead bodies and buried them, a football match broke out between the two sides when a ball was kicked out from the British lines into no man’s land. Those, who have been enemies just a day before came together and played FOOTBALL. I guess the match must have been far from an organized one but more like a match played in rural areas where everyone feels free to drop in or out anytime and kick, with no strict rules but as fair as any game could be, and the best part: everyone is happy that they are playing.

No shots were fired at night. Still no shot the next day. There was an exchange of greetings and cigarettes. I could imagine, in my own right, what a beautiful day that day must be. Nothing to fear but brothers sharing laughters under the same smoky sky. I could also imagine how tough would it had been, to go back to their trenches with a thought that the next day it would be the very same people whom they should try to put their bullets through.

Are we not living the same life? Deep down inside, we have been told time and again, GIVE PEACE A CHANCE. We have told ourselves many a times, “this isn’t  the way it has to be.. this is wrong.. that isn’t right..” but every now and then we relapse..

We tried so hard.. in the name of workshops, lectures, programmes, religion or organizations.. but in vain.. why not forget all these wise men’s games and just recollect the days of childhood when everyone plays with no discrimination, no boundaries.. but just a game.

We have it all in inside of us, to be harmless, peaceful.. we are just so focused on the external that we compromise it with our true being.. to love and share. We want to be friends but we have been conditioned to keep a distance.

Had we all learned to share, to break boundaries.. to follow our inner voices.. we would all have been playing in the same garden of love and peace.. with no one to dictate the rules of life.. but everyone living it and laughing about it.

As I reflect on my recent experience of playing with the children in Saraiya village, it was like an exhibition of another peaceful co-existence between different communities and castes. Despite the differences in beliefs and ways of life, which often are the reasons for conflict among human race, the children happily play together. The love they share as a child through sports/games, I believe when they grow up, will definitely make their bond stronger and break the wall of hostility, differences and discrimination.

I guess it’s high time we recall the Christmas Eve truce and learn from it. It’s time that we start realizing and believing that KHEL is a powerful tool to change life, to promote love, peace and brotherhood (referring to both genders). Nelson Mandela famously said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else can. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.

In the word of Staff Sergeant Clement Baker, “There is something appealing about the idea that nations could settle their differences in sport rather than war.” Well said, and proven. Who knew that such a love and peace could have existed in the middle of the battlefield between enemies, but it did.. KHEL KHEL mein…

The Punishment

Contributed by: Angana Prasad

Dated: 25th March, 2013

When we started playing with a new set of smaller children it broke my heart to see a kid break into tears when I moved to ‘punish’ him.  All I would have done is tickle him till he can’t laugh anymore and promises to not disrupt the sessions. It all changed with the realisation that I had perpetrated the fear that had made him cry…  Too many thoughts on this: Was this me or the ‘punishment’? Why was my ‘punishment’ the terrorist? ‘Punishments’ are terror or have we terrorised the idea of a ‘punishment’? Why did the kid cry?

Punishments in KHEL have never been about caning and that is something I have always been happy about. Our founder had drummed it into us that no matter what the provocation or frustration we are never to show our anger and in the very worst of cases, we just suspend or cancel our session for the day. So punishment ranges anything from getting down on your fours and bleating like a goat to becoming a chicken and pretending you are laying eggs. In worse cases of constant disruption, we hand over the session to the ‘naughty’ kid and let him conduct the game s/he likes best.

The side-effects of these ‘punishments’ are an enhancement of creative thinking skills, getting over your inhibitions, improving non-verbal communication skills, respecting the time of your peers (disruption + ‘punishment’ takes away the session time too) and most importantly teaches responsibility and empathy. Each time a naughty someone is asked to conduct a game with the entire group, not only are they getting all the attention they had been seeking but also being given a feel of how the coordinators feel being in the position that they are. Also, being given the responsibility of leading a game gives them no other option but to be responsible. The point of our KHEL ‘punishment’ is not to humiliate or to impose discipline strictly but to keep it light and fun and, at the same time, drive our point home.

If one is a child, one ought to be naughty and if one is a child and not naughty, then is one really a child?! I was/am a naughty kid and hated punishments in general (for obvious reasons), but somehow the idea of ‘KHEL punishments’ make me want to have more teachers like me (us) ;)