Sep 2017 - India Samvad

How Big a Piece is Peace?


It is International Day of Peace today. The UN has called it that. It was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. The United Nations invites all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

As I sit working I am enveloped by the sounds of an unforgiving drilling machine, relentless in its objective. In bursts, comes in the digger. A concrete saw fills in whatever space is left. The excavator works just down the road. The road seems unusually close today. Only the crane appears to quietly continue with its waist twists in the grey blue sky.

There are emails to be answered. Drafts of a proposal to be sent. Appointments to be confirmed and calendars to be matched. The list of unread WhatsApp messages grows every fraction of a minute. The clock is ticking. A deadline looms large.


“Where is peace? What is peace?” I asked my daughter. It was the school day yesterday and Grade 1’s were celebrating it by a session on mindfulness and peace. The class teacher read a book about being ‘present’. Not ‘present’ as in a gift or as in a presentation, but as in focused in the now. Involved in the now. Grateful for the now. Appreciating the now. Wow! Tough lesson I said to myself, sitting among the six year olds on the blue carpet, trying to focus on the story and not my daughter gingerly tracing the forty percent raw graze on her knees.

After the story we were to be a part of a yoga session, organized especially for Grade 1’s. It was supposed to be calming. We entered the main hall. The rains spoilt it a bit, but having just heard the story of being ‘present’ I was grateful that we had an indoor option. I was conscious of the now, now. There was some flapping of yoga mats and some genuine fun and laughter before parents chipped in and spread out the mats. Parent and child were side by side. My daughter took a few moments to decide which was a better yoga mat to use this morning- the grey or the blue? Hers or mine- which she also likes to think as hers. Everyone stretched on the mat. Early morning lying on the mat was therapeutic. We stretched our arms. Hers reached my right nostril and mine her left little finger. We giggled. Then we sat up, locked our fingers and stretched our arms sideways. We did it in opposite directions so that ours met when she turned to the right and I to the left. Each meeting of arms was greeted with a wide grin.

It was time to relax in the child pose for the fifth time now. How do you relax in a child pose so many times if you have scraped your knees? She made her own version with legs stretched out. “Children also relax like this,” she said, when I looked at her with a lingering smile and an eyebrow slightly raised.

“Are we here to get peace?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she quipped. “We are here for Yoga.” “But how big a piece is it?” I asked trying to be funny early morning. “No, peace is not piece or a slice or a portion or anything of something. It’s when you feel calm.” “When do you feel calm?” I asked. “It’s when you feel calm inside,” she said avoiding the direct question. “Inside? Where inside?” “Inside your heart,” she said.

“How do you know its calm in your heart?” I asked. “It’s when you are happy,” she said.

“Is that easy?” I asked. “If you want it is, if you don’t, its not,” she said.

Then she pressed her feet and arms actively into the floor and lifted herself off the floor, metamorphosed into a bridge.


May peace be with you!