Sunday, 12 August 2012

In memoriam.

It should have been a Sunday like any other.

Rising that morning, the joyful chaos in their homes as they prepared for Gurdwara. They would have stretched out their turbans, ironed their dupattas, braided their daughters' hair, tied colourful patkas on their sons' heads.

Got into their cars, checked their rear view mirrors, pulled out of their driveways.

Arrived at their Gurdwara, slipped off their shoes. Maybe there was a cup of cha before they walked in. Maybe they went straight into Guru's Darbar.

And suddenly, this was not a Sunday like any other.

Suddenly there was a man with a gun; and neither the man, nor the gun, discriminated one life from the next, taking lives at random. Blinded by hatred and discontent, this man could not see that here was a sanggat, a congregation, gathered in peace, to worship the One that holds all of us, including this man with a gun.

I am a believer of will; my own, and that of God's. But there are times, like these, when the ways of the world and its maker are beyond my understanding.

I think of Satwant Singh Kaleka, and how he reminds me of the many Uncle Jis surrounding my life. Uncle Jis that I see on motorbikes around Kuala Lumpur, that pop by the Gurdwara before heading to work in the mornings, that sit in coffee shops sipping teh tarik, that pool together to make the langgar for the weekly hospital visit. To think that one of these Uncle Jis confronted this man with a gun to protect his wider family. That it was instinctive.

Is it possible to thank such a man? And Lt Brian Murphy? We try. We write articles, we 'like' a Facebook page, we hold candle vigils. There is a simple beauty in these small ways, to show them and their loved ones that we have carved a place in our hearts for them.

And what now? What links do we draw from this?

Gun control? Random act of violence? The right to pray in peace?

Many have written about this incident (incident? Help me with a better word here, please). I have cried over the words of Valerie Kaur and other journalists, writers, bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, saying that today, we are all American Sikhs. Those bullets did not just pierce the bodies of an innocent Six, they pierced all of us who believe that first, before culture, race, religion, or nationality, first, we are human.

Every Sikh prayer ends with these words: "Sarbat da Bhala". Poorly translated, they mean well wishes and goodness for all.

These words has been very difficult for me since Oak Creek. I come to these words at the end of my prayer, and I struggle.

For it is difficult to include this man with a gun in my prayers. It is difficult to pray for the peace of his soul, and for the peace of the souls of others who share his cold intentions. It is difficult to place them on the same plane as bringers of peace and hope.

And yet our prayer asks it of us. It is a full circle; for it reminds us at the end, what it says in the beginning.


God and me, me and God, are one. You and me, me and you, are one.

It is always the simplest message that is the hardest to live by.

For now, I know that we are together in praying for the peace of the innocent Six, and those who hold them dear. That those traumatised by injury or experience heal from their ordeal.

As for the 7th, our prayers will take some time. Forgive us, for our wounds are still raw from your bullets, and our eyes sore from tears.

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