2. Prayers are all the same

०१ जून २०२०

One rainy Friday Anu & her mum moved into their new house. The movers brought all their stuff inside the new house and helped mum put whiteware such as the fridge and the washing machine in the allocated place. Then they left.  Mum sat on the couch.  She looked exhausted. Anu hugged her mum. She was tired too. She helped mum to pack their previous home. Now they will soon be unpacking.

When they both opened their eyes, it was a little dark in their new home. They both were so tired that they had a little nap on the couch. Anu jumped down and started to explore the rooms. She claimed one of the rooms and started pushing one box to her room.

"Where are you taking that box Anu?"

"I am taking my toy box to my room."

"How do you know it is your box?"

Anu stopped. She showed her mum small writing in one corner of the box. In small handwriting, it was written ‘Anu toys.

"Good job. But it should be Anu's not Anu toys"


"Okay …okay!!”  Mum helped her take that box to her room.

There was a knock on the door. Next door neighbour who was an old lady was at the door.  She introduced herself as Maggie and welcomed them in the neighbourhood. She gave Mum a cauliflower. She told mum that her daughter couldn't visit her this week. Usually, she is the one who drives her to places. Hence, she couldn't get chocolates for them as her new neighbours. So, she brought a cauliflower. Mum had a big smile on her face. She thanked her. Mum told Maggie that she will make a nice curry and they all can eat curry and rice. Maggie said she likes Indian food.

Anu knew the new school she was going to attend. But she was sad to leave her friends from the previous school. Mum told her school needs to be close from their new home. New school had a bus stop next to it. It is easier for Mum to drop her off and pick her up. They didn't have a car.

Following week was the last week of school holidays. Mum was on leave from work. She had to organise so many things. She had to find a childminder for Anu. She wanted someone to look after Anu when she worked late. Someone suggested a lady who lived in a suburb close to theirs. They will have to catch a bus to go there and bus back. After meeting that lady Mum looked relieved. Anu heard her on the phone with a friend that the childminder's family looked like a happy family. Lady looked kind. Childminder told Mum they are Christians and on Sundays Anu will have to attend church with them. Mum said "ok". Then the lady checked if Anu has any restrictions on her food. Mum said Anu eats all types of food. No allergies.

Remaining of the week was spent in tidying up the house and getting to know the neighbourhood. On the weekend before school, Anu was sitting in their front French window. It has become her favourite place. She could see people passing by from inside the security of her home. She liked to draw. There were plenty of things around their house which she could draw. On that weekend she was drawing with focus.

"Hey what are you drawing?"

Anu was startled. The window she was sitting in, was a little bit higher so she looked down. A boy of her age was standing there with a broad grin. His head was covered with a round cap. Anu waved at him and showed him the picture.

"Cool. Are you our new neighbour?"

"We are Maggie's neighbours"

"Who is Maggie?"

"Anu, who are you talking to?" Mum came out in the living room.

"Hello, who are you?"

"My name is Amir. I live there." He pointed at the row of houses behind Anu’s house.

"Can we play Mum?"

"His parents will be looking for him. Amir, do they know you are here?"

Amir shouted in the direction of his home,

"Ammi, I am playing at this house" and he grinned at Anu's Mum.

"Who is Ammi?” Anu asked him.

"I call my Mum Ammi"

By that time his Mum was talking to Anu's Mum. She found out that Amir was in Anu's school. He was short in height but was older than Anu by 2 years.  Mums decided that Anu & Amir can play together for some time. Anu's Mum offered him some snacks made at home which he declined to eat. He had some lollies and a cold drink with Anu. They had lot of fun. His older brother came to pick him up. His name was Ali. He noticed a small statue of God Ganesh near the TV.

"Whose statue is that? It looks funny"

"Don't laugh at it. That is a statue of my mum's God Ganesh"

"Is it not your God? Is your religion Hindu?"

Anu didn't know what to say.

"We are Muslims. In my family, we all have one God. Our priest told us that there is only one God in this world which is ours."

"That's not true. My Mum has her own God too. "

It was time for them to go. Both brothers were out of the door. They were running and shouting "Our God is the only God….la la "Anu turned around and saw Mum watching her. She hugged Mum. She was sure Mum will tell her the truth. But Mum said let's have dinner. Anu was tired and hungry.

Following day was a Sunday but Mum had an extra shift. Anu ended up staying at the childminder's place. She had one daughter older than Anu and one son who was of Anu's age. Anu went with them to the local church. It was Anu's first time to visit a Church. They had to keep quiet during the prayer. She was later told that the prayer is called ‘Service’. She also went to Sunday school with those children. In Sunday school, when the teacher was talking about God, Anu told the teacher that her Mum has her own God. Her friend was embarrassed and told her "Shh….! Don't disturb.  Teacher is talking about Jesus Christ. He made the world." Anu was scared of getting told of so she didn't say anything.

That afternoon Mum picked her up. On their way home in the bus, Anu fell asleep. She was fully awake when it was time for afternoon tea.

"Mum why your God looks different from other Gods?"

"Which other Gods?"

Anu told Mum all about the Gods she came to know in the last 2 days. She also told her about attending Sunday school. She wanted to know what is meant by religion.

"Do I have to pray to their God? Or they will not be my friends?"

The next day Mum took her to one of her friends. Anu liked this Aunty very much.  She was very loving. She told Anu that she was a Muslim and her religion was Islam. Anu asked her if she has a statue of her God. Aunty Said in her religion it is not allowed. She told Anu that they have a Holy book called Koran. Anu said she likes reading books. Aunty said she will gift it to her one day.  They had nice snacks to eat there. Aunty cuddled her, kissed her on the cheek and said bye.

After that, they went to a Church. It was open. Mum told Anu a place of worship is always open to the public. Mum showed her the cross, told her about Jesus Christ. Anu knew about him from the teacher in the Sunday school. She told Mum, "This God created the world, and everyone in the world”. Mum told her that this religion is the Christian religion. Their holy book is the Bible. Anu said, "Mum, there are so many books to read."

Mum then reminded Anu of her friend Limor who lived in another town. Mum said "Aunty Limor's religion is Judaism. Their holy book is known as the Hebrew Bible."

Their next stop was a Temple. They had statues of a few Gods. Mum's God was there too. Anu liked one ‘Lady God". She had nice jewellery.  She looked rich. Mum told her that God was ‘the Goddess of wealth’. All the Gods looked happy and smiling.  Anu realised this is why Mum prays to them. It must make her happy. Mum told her that her parents followed Hindu religion. In most of the cultures, children take their parent's last name and follow their religion. It is expected that they do.

"What about God? Can you choose your own?"

"Yes and No. You must worship the God your family worships. Some people also have their own God they pray to. There are some people who do not believe in God. They are called atheists."

Mum and Anu sat on one of the park benches. Mum bought her favourite ‘potato hot fries’.

"Mum, Gods are different. What about prayers?"

"Very good sweetie. You asked the best question. Prayers are all the same. They maybe in different languages but they all praise their Gods and thank him for looking after them".

"Oh…. then it doesn't matter what religion I take?"

"Nope. Don't rush into it though. You are just a 6-year-old kid. You have plenty of time to decide. You might decide not to follow any religion."

Anu liked sitting with Mum in the park and enjoying the fries.

Anagha Kawley, Auckland, New Zealand


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