Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Akaal Takath Toon Aai Awaaz - Khalistan ! Khalistan ! by Dimple Kaur

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

On Monday night, over 100 Sikhs gathered in front of the Sheraton Hotel in the middle of New York City to protest the visit of Sonia Gandhi, the president of India's Congress Party responsible for the genocide of Sikhs and other non-Hindu minorities. The majority of the protesters were men, who had brought their wives and young children along. Our brothers led the chanting of slogans such as “Akaal Takath toon aai awaaz – Khalistan! Khalistan!”, with the exception of one 16 year old sister from New Jersey, whose Sikh Spirit was an inspiration to everyone there.

As I was watching a few of these brave warriors, I saw that they were reaching down into the depths of their souls with each shout, echoing the courage and belief of their convictions. One in particular, each time I looked onto his face and heard his voice, it pained me tremendously. All I could see was overwhelming love for his brothers and sisters who had been, and continue to be, tortured and murdered. A love so strong that it can make a person go numb.

Our sisters in Punjab are also numb – living a life of not knowing where their husbands, brothers, and sons are. Always wondering, is he still alive or have they killed him? Imagining the worst scenarios of torture…what if they did this to him or that to him? Is he being hurt and in pain?

I wonder how our women are bearing life with the thought of the person they love the most being hurt in this way? It is one thing to lose someone who dies, hopefully a quick and painless death, like my grandfather who was fortunate to pass away lying on his bed, asleep, with his hands folded across his chest…forever in a prayer….forever in a never-ending sleep. It is another thing to lose a loved one quickly, even though painfully, like my father, who was shot three times at close range with a revolver while stopping his car at a red light. Death with a bullet -- but least it was quick. Bang! Bang! Bang! – I can imagine it, see him dying, know how he went, know where he is now, and put closure on it.

But what keeps me up at night, what makes me shudder during the day, what consumes me as I walk around in the city in the center of the world, is the fact that so many of my brothers, fathers, and sons are out there somewhere - alive or dead, but we don’t know where. While so many of my sisters, mothers, and daughters are laying in bed at night, unable to close their eyes because they keep seeing the faces of their men…and in their thoughts, their men are in incredible pain, and continuously being hurt. Their legs pulled apart and their bodies mutilated. And my sisters, my dear, dear sisters, who are being raped continuously by those monsters while all they want to do is die, but they are forced to keep living, and bearing it.

I often ask myself, how can I enjoy what I am doing, enjoy my life knowing that hundreds and thousands of my men are languishing in prisons, missing, “disappeared”, killed in “encounters”, dead with their bodies thrown in rivers, buried, or burned. Where are our brothers and sisters? Why won’t anyone give us answers? How long will our sisters lay in bed every night wondering where their husbands are, not being able to close their eyes and go to sleep for one day without waking up with an emptiness in their stomachs the next?

Now I realize why, when I saw that brave Singh shouting “Akaal Takath Toon Aai Awaaz, Khalistan, Khalistan!”, I felt so much discomfort in my soul. Why the look on his face was so disturbing for me and the look in his eyes was too painful to bear. Why with each shout, I felt he was reaching deep inside me and pulling out my voice. The voices of those who are missing loved ones and want to know where they are, even if they are dead, who just want to know. With each shout, he was connecting us all to him and was speaking for us all. He was saying, “I don’t want to grow old, not knowing what happened to my husband. I don’t want to grow old while in my memory, he stays a young man, at the prime of his life, as shadows hover over his body, freezing him in a never-ending nightmare of torture. Please, tell me what happened to him. Tell me he is dead. Not knowing forces me to keep him alive and see his face, numb with pain, so numb, he doesn’t even know where he is, or what his name is. At least if I know he is dead, I know he is in a better place. At least I can have him close his eyes in my memory, forever. But this way, not knowing, is a waking death for me. Please, let me rest. Tell me what happened to him.”

So on Monday evening, about 100 of us gathered, in the middle of Manhattan, to protest not just Sonia Gandhi, but what she symbolizes. A nightmare that is forced upon our people just so that the status quo can be maintained and the lust for power be quenched with the blood of Singhs and Kaurs. Let’s never forget Bhai Fauja Singh, Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, General Subeg Singh, Amrik Singh, Satwant Singh, Beant Singh, and our other Singh and Kaur martyrs.

Let’s not get so caught up in our love for life, that these men and women just become part of our "history”, rather than people whose sacrifices we should try and repay with our efforts of sewa and love for the Panth, and through the Panth, greater mankind.