There are some incidents that happen in your childhood that are hard to erase from your memory. There are two types of incidents that you normally remember – either something that made you feel extremely happy or something that left you feeling sad, confused and angry.

I was barely 5 years old when it happened. I just came home from Detskiy Saad (Russian kindergarten). My mother was preparing lunch in the kitchen. I ran out to the balcony and looked outside. We had been living on the 7th floor of an apartment situated close to the Moscow Kremlin. The balcony had a clear view of the bus stop where my older brother would be dropped off from the school bus. So I stood on my toes, waiting and watching.

I saw a lady wearing a Burka approaching the bus stop. A little child clung to her side – from the distance I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl – and I smiled gleefully thinking I had a new friend to play with. I called out to my mother to tell her and quickly turned back to watch them.

It all happened so fast.

Two skinheads ran towards them, hitting the lady with clubs. The lady fell to the ground at the first hit. They continued to hit her even as her child started wailing for her. Hearing the child cry, I began to cry out loud as well. My mother came rushing to the balcony just then. The skinheads then hit the child. One blow was all it took. The crying and screaming stopped at once. All I could see now was a growing pool of blood on the road. People standing by began walking away quickly. The skinheads shouted out in triumph and then fled the scene.

My mother asked me to go to my room. She then called up my father to discuss this.

It has been over 15 years since it happened. I am confused and angry about it to this day. What did the mother and child do to deserve it? Nobody gets to choose what family they are born into. They can only choose what they do with their life. The skinheads chose to kill two innocents. They chose to be murderers.

Sure, they would try to justify by saying that they lost their family because of someone of Islam descent. But does that justification make any sense? Even if you say that all Muslims are killers, how are you any different?

You can choose to make peace. You can choose to spread love. War isn’t the solution our world needs. We need to understand each other and accept each other.

There is not one day that goes by that I don’t read about a murder. They killed him because he’s gay. They killed her because she was born a man. They killed him because he cheated on his wife. They killed them because they worshipped another God.

I am sick and tired of this.

I want to wake up in a country where we don’t prepare for war. I want to wake up in a place where nobody owns guns. I want to wake up in a place where everyone is treated equally.

I want a world where we live and let live – where everyone is happy and we can all be human.

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