Through the eyes of children


An encounter with a loving close-knit family leaves Prema Devaraj reflecting on what really matters in life.

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She took my breath away as she entered the lift with her children and her partner.

She was stunning, a vision of grace and femininity. With a demure, gentle manner she gathered her two children close to her. The people outside the lift were still staring at her as the lift door closed.

Her children, one girl and one boy, jumped up and down in the lift giggling as happy children do. They stayed close to her. Her partner stood next to her talking quietly. An interesting family – no one looked even remotely related to each other ethnically – and yet, this family of four stood in the lift in front of me.

The little boy smiled at me and I smiled back.

His father asked him a question.

He looked puzzled and turned to me.

I told him I did not know the answer and we all laughed. The children’s laughter filled the lift.

Their mother smiled. When the lift door opened, people stepped back as she gracefully walked out of the lift.

Her partner told the children, “Hold mummy’s hand.”

They obediently did, skipping happily out of the building. People stared after them.

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I walked behind them as it seemed we were going the same way.

They passed a beggar on the pavement and the little girl stopped to stare.

Her mother very gently pulled her away. She bent down and spoke to both the children in loving gentle tones.

The children nodded and smiled and nestled close to her. The family carried on walking.

The way the children looked at her said it all. They adored her. They loved her. She was their all. To them, she was mummy – the one they could trust, the one who would look after them.

I hoped their love would give her strength to endure the slights, comments and stares she would continue to receive over her slightly visible Adam’s apple, her large hands and her almost unreal beauty. I hoped that the children would continue to remain impervious to stares and comments about their mummy, that they would never stop loving her the way they did now.

Perhaps if we looked at people, irrespective of their gender identity, through the eyes of children, without the trappings of societal norms and prejudices, without judgment, hate or mistrust, our world would be a far better place for each and every one of us.

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Prema Devaraj
Dr Prema Devaraj, previously a long-time executive committee member, was elected Aliran's first woman president in November 2016. She is also a programme consultant with the Women's Centre for Change, Penang.


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