01 February 2007


Now I complete my account of the events of November 1984. I last left off with Mani's death.

I lay down and either slept or passed out. I believe I slept because I was aware of the passage of time. When I woke up, it seemed that my mind had cleared a bit. I sat up, still on the floor, and looked around.

Bodies and blood everywhere. And the smell. I have never read a description of the smell of the aftermath of a battle; I think no one really wants to describe it. Blood, of course, and urine and, pardon me, shit, mixed with the odour of violent death. Yes, there is an odour associated with violent death. Having experienced it, it cannot be forgotten.

Suni was sitting in a large chair, seemingly uninjured, still clutching the Guru with both arms around him. She glanced at me, but there was no recognition in her eyes. She turned her attention back to Guruji and ignored me.

I struggled stiffly to my feet and stood up. I had been badly beaten and, as it turns out, had gone into premature labour; in fact, it would take me many weeks to recover. At this time, though, I was experiencing no physical pain; my body must had produced a surfeit of endorphins.

From somewhere, I remembered that dead bodies were supposed to be washed with fresh yogurt (curds). We had some that Suni had been culturing in the kitchen. I went there and brought back a pail of water, some washcloths and the yogurt. Passing the body of the [male human] with the slashed neck, I kicked it in the head.

I went first to Mohan, washed his face with water and then yogurt, closed his eyes and kissed his forehead.

Next, I went to Balbir, washed his face with water and then yogurt, closed his eyes and kissed his forehead.

Having taken care of Suni's men, I went to my brothers.

I went to Bert, washed his face with water and then yogurt, closed his eyes and kissed his forehead.

I went to Eddie, washed his face with water and then yogurt, closed his eyes and kissed his forehead.

Last, I went to my men.

I went to Sandeep, washed his face with water and then yogurt, closed his eyes and kissed his forehead. Last,

I went to Mani, washed his face with water and then yogurt and kissed his forehead.

Done with that, I picked up the bowl of water, now red with blood, and the cloths I had been using. Glaring down at the body of the [male human] with the slashed neck, I stopped for a moment. Its eyes were still wide open in terror, the mouth gaped loosely. I looked at it for a moment, then tossed the cloths and dumped the bloody water on it. 'You wanted our blood? There, have it!' I cried out loud, my voice echoing in the silent room. I thought for a moment of mutilating the body in the way HT had been forged for, but, as our men's bodies were left intact, I chose not to.

I walked to Suni. 'Do you have a picture of Guru Nanak Dev Ji or Guru Gobind Singh Ji?' Still with a blank dazed look, she reached inside her shirt and pulled out some pictures. I looked through them and took the two I wanted. I held them up and told them. 'You see what has happened? They're all dead. You better be proud of them.' I started laughing, hysterically, I guess, and handed the pictures, now bloody from my hands back to Suni. She stuffed them back down her shirt.

My work done, I walked back to Mani, lay down beside him and

...the next thing I knew someone was trying to pull me off his body and I was refusing to let go. There was a lot of confusion and yelling in Hindi, a language I had trouble understanding in the best of times. I was, by this time more dead than alive; I couldn't move or talk or even open my eyes. My thinking was not rational. I knew only that nothing would get me away from Mani. Then I heard Suni scream at me, 'Mai, they're going to burn down the house. If you're here, you'll burn with it! You've got to let them take you! We're Sikhs. Even Hindus don't commit sati any more!' Sati? She really didn't understand. Or maybe she did. Please, just leave me with my husband. Looking back, I'm horrified. I can only say that, from the beating and from a large loss of blood, I was near death and my brain wasn't functioning properly. People kept pulling at me...

The next thing I was aware of was being in a hospital room in Montreal, about four weeks later.

Suni has many times assured me that the house burnt down with the bodies of our men inside.

I would love to be able to tell you how we were rescued. Unfortunately, the people who saved us, for their own reasons, do not want that story told and have refused me permission to write it here. So let me just say that, while their story will remain unwritten, their courage and sacrifice will not go unacknowledged.

Reading this now, I realise how gruesome it is. I have tried to tell the story without all the grizzly details, leaving those to your imagination. I have purposely not written a blow-by-blow description of the actual battle; it would add nothing positive to our story. Suffice it to say we fought hard and skillfully, but were too badly outnumbered to accomplish much. Also, I remind you that this was a home invasion, we were in no way the aggressors. All peaceful means had failed. And we took up the sword, as we had been taught.

I am most proud of the way we fought, each of us to the best of his or her ability, no one backing off. None of us, living or dead, are victims. Our dead men were, each of them, true saint-soldiers, deserving of the title 'Shaheed,' and we can all be proud of them and all the others who died during this battle. May the rest of us never forget their sacrifice and may we all live in a way that honours them and what they fought and died for!

Up to this point, all these posts have been adaptations of entries in Mai's personal blog. We are trying very hard to get Maman (Vini) to write or dictate her story, which has never been recorded. We hope that will be our next post.

If anyone reading this wants to start their own blog, go to the top of this page and click on the words 'Create Blog' in the right hand corner. and you will get full instructions. You have a choice; if you choose, you can make it public as we have and others can read it, or you can make it private, so only those you give permission to can read it. So please, don't hesitate. If you have a story to record please do it before it's too late. Remember, if we don't tell our stories, only the accounts of our enemies will remain.

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