26 July 2007

'They've Forgotten And Moved On'

Back on 31 May, I sent this out to just about everyone on my mailing list:

To All my Cyberfriends and Family:

For the next week or so I will be very busy with Bluestar/ Third Gallaghura activities and will not be readily available. If you do not see me online or if you see a 'do not disturb' red ball on chat, do not worry about me; I am fine, just very busy. Please respect the red ball if it is there unless you have a real emergency. Send an email and I will respond as soon as I can.

I am sending this out individually instead of in one mailing as I know many of you prefer to keep your addresses private.

All of you, please take care.

Talk to you later.

Love and hope,


Most of the replies I got were along the line of 'yeah, sure, I understand, no problem.' One I got, however, I found very disturbing:

From: (A 23 year old Hindu man in Amritsar)


This response made me angry and I had no intention of continuing the correspondence. But a few days ago, he sent an e-mail and I decided to let him know that he was out-of-bounds, as he didn't seem to realise he'd done anything wrong. (OK, I do tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I sent him a copy of my note and his response and told him simply that his laughing was highly offensive because 'some things just aren't funny.'

I received this response: (I have changed the form a bit because his style of writing is distinct, and I didn't ask for his permission to reprint it. but it is exactly what he wrote. Highlighting is mine.)

OK, see, this is a very old e-mail, so I don't exactly remember why did I write this...

but maybe because of your obsession with this Bluestar phenomenon...

As such we here [in Amritsar] didn't observe any such day...and you are so far away...not even a citizen of ours considers it important...so I may have laughed...laughed not at the deaths of innocent people...but of your attitude of bringing this thing up every now and then

or maybe I laughed to see that red balls thing you wrote about being busy...

I don't remember...it's got to be one of two reasons...or maybe both...

But as I write I am more convinced it was the former one...

But no offence meant...

Mai, you need a break really about this Bluestar thing...because where it happened...those who suffered...those who were at the forefront... they've forgotten...and moved on...

I saw just today a report on NDTV...couldn't find you a link...They showed how children of former terrorists are becoming doctors and engineers...

Now you take care of your health, OK?

But I meant no offence that day!!...OK, Ji.

Bye bye.

Remember, this is a letter from AMRITSAR. Is it really possible to ignore this bloody massacre in our capital city? Have those demons running the Indian government really done their work so well that this young generation can pretend it never happened and believe that the people it happened to have 'forgotten and moved on'?


And this young man hasn't an inkling that his whole response is insulting and condescending and offensive in the extreme.

I am publishing this because I think it is important that we have some understanding of the young Hindus today in the Punjab. This deluded young man thinks he is our friend. He has even sent me snaps of himself with arms draped over the shoulders of his turbaned Sikh friends. If this is the attitude the sympathetic ones, one can only imagine what the majority think.

I am sorry to post something so offensive, but I think we need this kind of information. To anyone I have offended, please accept my apology in advance.

Poll Results

Here is what it said: 48 people responding:


It is vital to the survival of the Sikh people/nation/religion.
23 (47%)

It's a great idea, but not vital, Guru Ji will ensure our survival.
17 (35%)

I don't know.
1 (2%)

You are a bunch of nut cases; go into therapy.
4 (8%)

You are terrorists, potential or actual.
2 (4%)

No opinion
2 (4%)

I am Sikh
33 (68%)

I am not Sikh
4 (8%)

So what do I make of this?

There were many more respondents than I expected. In the Khalistan part, there were 49 answers, so someone answered two of those answers, which is fine.

I was very surprised that only two people thought we were terrorists; I guess those in the Indian government weren't voting!

Twice as many thought we are crazy; I expected more there, as that seems to be a fairly common reaction to the idea of Khalistan.

The real surprise to me was the last two question. That was 33 Sikhs to 4 non Sikhs or about 8 to one. That didn't surprise me as I know some from both groups read here now and then. What intrigues me is that 33 + 4 = 37. I wonder about the other 11. It doesn't really matter, of course, but I am curious. My mind just works that way.

Remember, there is nothing scientific about this poll, it is only to satisfy curiosity. In my new poll, I'll try to find out about some demographics.

21 July 2007

A Personal Message

My dear Friends and Readers,

Several of you have e-mailed me wanting information about my health problems. All of you know I had a major stroke in April, 2006, and flat-lined twice. I have a genetic blood disorder that causes blood clots. I have had clots over the years several times with no real damage to me until a heart attack in 2005. But I have to take a blood thinner, warfarin (Coumadin) for the rest of my life to prevent further clots. Blood clots cause heart attack in the heart, stroke in the brain and death in the lungs.

What I haven't talked about is another congenital condition, a malformed aortal valve in my heart. I have known that sooner or later, I would need surgery for that. Well, sooner or later is now. My doctors say that my heart will last maybe three months without the operation.

Here's the problem: they would have to take me off the warfarin to perform the surgery. There is a very high risk of more blood clots then, causing stroke, heart attack or lung failure, any of which, in my condition, has a high mortality rate, ie, I would likely die. At the very least, I would be completely incapacitated.

I have chosen not to risk permanent, massive disability and to forgo the surgery. Lilly's father had a massive stroke; I watched him lie in bed, unable to eat, talk, move, communicate, unable to do ANYTHING, yet fully conscious. There are many definitions of hell. Surely this must be one of them! I refuse. I am a warrior, not a thinking vegetable.

That said, please don't write me off yet. The medical profession has pronounced me dying since before my birth. At my last stroke, they told my husband there was no hope, to make funeral arrangements. But, hey, I'm sitting here typing this.

I am not afraid of dying. Perhaps it is my upbringing, my beliefs, or my experiences of flat-lining four times in this one lifetime. (An interesting experience, I suppose, but I never saw tunnels or lights or ran into God, or even Guru Gobind Singh Ji. I did , I think, once meet up with a nihang and once with a nurse and once with another personage, who will here remain nameless.) Whatever the reason, Old Man Death holds no horror for me, in fact, it would be a release from constant physical pain.

However, I am not ready to die. I refuse to die in a hospital bed with weepy people gathered around me. Mai insists on dying fighting. I was born a fighter. I have lived a fighter. And I insist on dying a fighter. I still have a few things to do. I want to finish editing my 1984 journal, for one. And, of course, I want most of all to die in righteous battle as a shaheed.

My one fear of dying is how some people who love me will react. I saw my husband fall completely to pieces for 18 months when a son got killed in a car wreck. If I had not been there, practically force feeding him, shoving him out of bed, pushing him into the bathtub, etc., I doubt he would have survived. He is still horribly dependent on me emotionally; if I were to die, I'm afraid of what would happen to him.

I am almost as afraid for a young lady I have come to care about very deeply. She is 14, which is a very emotional and vulnerable age. She has already had too much tragedy in her life and, God help me! I don't want to add to it. I have told her not to mourn for me while I am still alive.

So now you have it. I hope this hasn't been too dry and personal. Again I tell my doctors what I have told them many times before: 'You have no idea who you are dealing with.'

Whatever happens, it is the Hukam of Waheguru and I accept that without hesitation.

Love to all,



17 July 2007

A Notebook

Last week, on Friday, a small package arrived from Montreal, accompanied by a note from eldest brother, Alain. It said,


'Dear Sister,

We came across this while cleaning in the attic. When I saw what it was, I
stopped reading at once and packed it to send to you. I knew you would want it.
Sorry for everything. I hope the memories aren't too intense for you.

Love, Brother Al


Of course, I ripped the packaging off immediately. It was a notebook.

I have always kept a journal of one sort or another. Usually after a time I burn them, unless they contain something extraordinary, figuring they have served their purpose in the writing and not wanting them to fall into unfriendly hands. I had kept an extensive journal of our trip to India, supposing it would be something to remember all our lives. (Yeah, right!) That, unfortunately, burnt with the house.

This journal, however, was written afterward. I opened it and gasped at the date of the first entry: 29 November 1984. That entry consists of just two scrawled words, the most obscene expression in the English language. So much for the [saintly] Mai! I do not remember writing any of it, but it is all in my handwriting and I know the thoughts are mine.
On the inside front cover, two pictures had been pasted: the first formal portrait of the three of us as a family, Sandeep only a few days old, and the one taken the day before we left for India, Sandeep trying not to look excited, Mani not even trying not to look excited and me trying not to look apprehensive. (If only they had listened to me. 'If only, Lord, if only.')

I read it at once, from beginning to end, no easy task, partly because I seemed to get an allergy attack and my eyes wouldn't stop watering and refused to focus. Also my handwriting, while I'm told is beautiful to look at, isn't easy to read, and much of what was written was almost illegible scrawling.

I have been pondering what to do with it. I know it belongs on this blog in some form. But there are problems. To begin with, it is loaded with anger and profanity. No self-controlled, civilised young lady wrote this thing. This is the sipahi without the sant. I need to decide how to handle that. To remove the profanity would destroy the impact and would be dishonest...to leave it in is indecent. I am working on a compromise I can live with - and you can stand to read.

[Click here to read the whole unexpurgated journal. The 'nice' version can be found in this blog under the labnel 'journal.']

I would like to work on it and publish it here in November. However, I am told by the medical professionals that I may well not last that long. So I have made a rough transcription and given it to Suni and Vini (Maman) and asked them to handle it at that time. if I am unable or unavailable.

By the way, I don't believe Al even one little bit when he says he didn't read it. My brother the psychiatrist wouldn't dream of sending it to me without knowing what was in it. He is, after all, the head of the family and, besides, a real snoop.

14 July 2007

Bastille Day

When I was a kid, Dad being quite the Francophile, we always had a big Bastille Day celebration. Even as an adult, I have always fixed a special sort of festival dinner. Until 2004.

Since then, nothing special. No celebrations. Until France collectively comes to its senses and shows some respect toward its Sikh citizens and residents, I am boycotting all things French, including their holidays.

Our boys, and, one would suppose, our girls as well, if they wore a turban, are EXPELLED from school for wearing a patka, much less a full dastaar, I believe also that they are trying to make us remove our turbans for driver's license pictures, as well. They have gone mad!

I have read that some Sikhs are bringing France to court on human rights violations. This bears watching. I have seen nothing about this case since June.

12 July 2007

Female Foeticide - An Addition

We all know this, don't we? But I thought it might be useful to quote directly from the Sikh Reht Maryada (English translation) at the SGPC Website: Section 4, Chapter X, Article XVI:
l. A Sikh should not kill his daughter; nor should he maintain any
relationship with a killer of daughter.
See my earlier post about female foeticide - the murder of our daughters in their mothers' womb.

Khalistan Poll

Blogger has a new feature, which we are trying out. If you look in the right hand column under our introductory paragraph, you will see a poll. Please check off any that may express your opinion, as many as apply. This is not scientific; it is only for my always active curiosity. If you have anything more to say, leave a comment in any post. All comments are e-mailed to us, none are lost.

09 July 2007

The Day I Became A Sikh

Cross-posting seems a little lazy to me, but several people have asked me to publish this post into this blog. I am not sure if it is funny, sad , poignant, inspiring or what; I am sure it is a vital part of my personal story. It is exactly as published in sometimes - 2 on 31 March 2007.

The Day I Became A Sikh

(Note My aunt's name is not Jeanne and the priest 's name was not Leblanc.)

All this happened about 43 years ago, so the conversations are slightly fictionalised. I do not really remember most of them them verbatim. But the meanings are exactly what occurred.

I believe I have mentioned that Dad had promised my mother, who was Catholic, to raise me as a Catholic. He didn't like that at all, but being a man of his word, he kept his promise to her, or rather, he tried to keep his promise to her. No one had consulted me on the matter.

So let's travel back in time of my birth. Mom insisted that I be properly baptised in the church with all the trimmings. Not one of the Sikhs, including Dad and my brothers was there. I was dressed in a very long silk gown that completely engulfed the tiny baby. That dress was kept for a number of years and it was a good meter long. (What became of it I'll tell later.) It was white with elaborate embroidery all over it. Quite a work of art actually. But it did have a stain on it. I, being me, objected to the whole proceedings in the only way a small baby could: I kicked and screamed and threw up all over it. It is said that newborn babies are very close to God and have definite ideas about him/her. I have no recollection, of course, but I was on my worst behaviour, I have been told, kicking and screaming and, as I said, throwing up. My maternal aunt and uncle became my godparents, charged with the duty to make sure that I was brought up and educated as a proper Catholic girl. A Christian name being a necessity, I was named after an ancestor of mine on the French side, Helene-Therese, who, from what I know about her, would have made a fine Khalsa. In fact I used her war dagger in combat. The name was the only good thing about the whole ritual.

My aunt, Jeanne, took me to mass every Sunday for years, and saw to it that I was enrolled in Catechism class, which I had to attend after school.

I hated every minute of it. I begged Daddy to please, please, please put an end to all this; mom had run off and there was no reason to continue. But he was a man of his word, and this forced religious life went on and on. I even hated the smell of the church. It wreaked of cheap incense and old spilled wine. Most of all, I hated the priest, Father Leblanc. He was short and fat and smelled of cigarettes and alcohol. These were the days before Pope John 23 liberalised the church, and the people were taught that the priests were all wise and almost infallible; they were not to be questioned.

This torture went on for years, but when it came time for 'The Sacrament of Confirmation,' I knew I had to put an end to it. No way was I able to stand up and publicly declare that 'I believe in the holy Catholic church.' I knew that if I went to the ceremony, I would have to simply refuse, which might make a point, but would also make a scandal, which I, being a very private person even then, really wanted to avoid. Gradually an idea came to me: If I could get kicked out of the church before all that, the problem would be solved. It would alienate my mother's family, of course, but I had always considered them low-lifes with no standards and would be happy to be rid of them.

So I prepared my plan of attack. One day in confirmation class, I looked at my kara, which was the only Sikh object I was allowed (I'm sure none of the Catholics realised it was more than a piece of cheap jewelry), took a very deep breath, and raised my hand. This greatly surprised Fr. Leblanc because I always just sat there, stony-faced.

He smiled his slimy smile at me. 'Yes, child. Do you have a question??'

I nodded.

'I'll be happy to answer it, my child.'

(I'm not your child, thank God!) 'God is our heavenly father who loves us so much that he sent his son, who is also God, to be tortured to death and then brought back to life, so we wouldn't go to hell, and then he sent the Holy Ghost, who is also God to be our helper, so it seems like there are three Gods, but there is only one. I don't understand?'

I was just beginning. I had rehearsed all this many times before and he had to think I was sincere.

He did.

'That's the mystery of the Holy Trinity, child. It is beyond human understanding.'

'And if we don't believe in it, our loving heavenly father will send us to hell to be tortured in firy torment forever and ever.'

He was beginning to see where I was headed. 'You mustn't question God, child.' He was becoming annoyed.

I continued in this vein for some time, ripping Catholicism up one dogma and down another.

The good priest just stood there, mouth open, aghast at my words.

'I don't question God. But what you worship and call God is not God; you worship an evil demonic thing and I would rather be tortured for a thousand forevers than to worship that hideous evil THING for even one second!'

Priests in those days were not used to being challenged by anyone, especially not by 12 year old girls in confirmation class. Did you know that people really can turn purple? He was beyond anger, nearly insane, I thought his eyes might pop out of his head. He pointed a chubby little finger at me. 'Blasphemer! Heretic! Spawn of Satan!'

Daddy as the devil? What an interesting idea.

( I think he actually used those terms, but I can't be sure; it was over 40 years ago.)

'Get out!'


Mission accomplished.

Usually one of my brothers would pick me up, but since they wouldn't be there for some time, I took the bus home.

When I walked in Dad realised I was early. 'You didn't skip that church class today, did you?'

'No, not at all.'

He heard some expression in my voice. 'What are you up to?

'I told him the whole story, punctuated by an occasional 'You said WHAT?'

When I was done and he was trying to keep a straight face, he muttered something under his breath about Gobind Singh and reached out and touched my kara. 'That was the only compromise your mother would make with me about you and religion.'

'I have never understood why it was important to her what religion I was; she never cared about me.'

He promised he'd talk about that when I got older, which he did, with much difficulty. But that story belongs somewhere else.

'Well, I guess I need to talk to that priest. Let me go get dressed.'

When he came back, he was in his best Punjabi gear, complete with a red turban and a full-length, metre-long sword. I could just see him there, calm, rational, self-composed, a bit unconsciously menacing with Fr. Leblanc ready to have a heart attack-nervous breakdown.

When he came back, he informed me that Fr. Leblanc was extremely serious about my not returning. And that the good father had called both of us some names of which neither of us was sure the meaning, but they weren't meant as compliments. I did explain to him that he, never having been baptised was merely an infidel, but I was a heretic; he would be hung or something, while I was supposed to be burned alive. But this was the twentieth century, not the fifteenth, so the worst that would happen is that my French-Canadian relatives would disown me.

He almost skipped away and came back with a smallish box, which he handed to me. 'I have always prayed that one day I'd be able to give this to you.' I opened it and gasped.

Inside was a kara, a kirpan, a kanga, a pair of kechera and a red silk chunni.' You can use any or all or none; it's totally up to you.'

It's totally up to you. It's totally up to me. It's totally up to me. It's totally up to me. Suddenly, it sunk in that I was free, I didn't have to pretend or go along any more. In one very real sense, this was the beginning of my life.

I went to my apartment and built a fire in the fireplace. Then I took a long, long shower and washed my hair. My kesh. I could finally call it my kesh. I called Surinder, Al's wife to help me get dressed.

I took down the crucifix that my aunt had insisted I had to have by my bed and thew it into the fire. Remember my christening dress? That was next. There were a few other things, but those were the most important.

At Dad's insistence, the whole family (whoever happened to be in residence) always ate dinner together. When I appeared, not as a Canadian preteen, but as a young Punjabi lady, everyone was surprised. Before we ate, Dad made a little speech.

'All of you know that I promised our Princess' mother that I would raise her as a Christian. Before today, I didn't realise what an injustice I had done to my daughter. I was wrong to force her into a way of life that neither of us wanted or could believe in. I've been a regular Mughal. I should have broken that promise a long time ago and accepted whatever consequences there would have been. I shouldn't have waited for her to stand up to a ridiculous little priest. I was wrong. Mai, Princess, can you forgive me?'

That is very close to what he actually said. It was a moment that is indelibly burned into my memory.

I couldn't believe what he was saying or how serious he was. But I did appreciate that he realised he had been wrong and had said so.

I matched his solemnity. 'Of course.'

I paused. 'Am I a Sikh now?'

'You're the only one who can answer that. You know enough to make that choice. Do you believe in Christianity?'

'No, not even a little bit. Of course, I'm a Sikh, I always have been inside. Now I can be outside, too.'

'We do need to teach you a thing or two about religious tolerance, though.' He giggled.

Dad reached under a napkin. 'You might want this.' He handed me a small silk envelope with a key on a chain inside. I knew at once what it was. The key to Guruji's sitting room. With people in and out constantly and kids all over the place, that door was kept locked, but each family member wore a key on a chain. Now I had mine, as well.

That pretty much tells that story। Everything that happened afterward was a result of this day.

Photo of kakkars by Karamjeet Singh
Used with permission

03 July 2007

American Independence Day

This blog is about Khalistan and Sikh affairs, especially Sikh unity. It is not a political blog. For that reason, I am not publishing my American Independence Day post here. But for those of you who would like to see it, please go to my sometimes - 2 blog.

I was told not to publish it, in rather strong terms. I don't know how long it will remain up. However, I am the same person who fought a murderous mob in Delhi in November 1984 and survived. I like this post and it's going up. Be sure to read it to the end or you'll miss its point.

01 July 2007

An Open Letter to Tarek Fatah

From the comments of CBC Hatchet Job (two posts below this one)

From: Amneet Singh:

Bhenji, i have written the following response to Tarek on that blog, however i cannot post it because i do not have an account... if you could post it on my behalf and edit it in any way you feel appropriate that would be greatly appreciated..

My Response:

Gladly. I am also posting it here as a post without further comment (since sometimes it's hard for readers to get to comments and I really like what you have to say) and will also copy it onto the blog. It needs no editing. Mai.

"Tarek Fatah, Sikhs do not wish for the disintegration of a Nation, however we seek justice for the murders and genocidal campaign against many minorities within the state of India.

Kashmiris, Dalits, Sikhs and Christians (May I add Muslims, as well? Mai) have been victims of gross human rights violations, and the state of India has proven itself unwilling to provide justice to the victims of their oppression.

Tarak Fatah, are you in favour of state terrorism along with India's continued denial and lack of action for the murders of millions... including many minorities outside of the Sikh Fold? Does it not bother you that 24 years after the Delhi Pogroms the murderers of 20 000+ innocent Sikhs who were burnt alive in a period of 3 days continue to roam free while holding seats in Indian Parliamant? Tarek, do you really feel murder, rape, and torture of these innocent Sikhs was justified and that the Indian courts after 24 yrs of mocking Sikhs will build up the courage to arrest and jail those responsible?

Will you, Tarek Fatah... condemn the Indian Government for its gross human rights violations, and stop your slander against Sikhs by defining our calls for justice as terrorism...? Will you..bring an end to your attempt to label Sikhs seeking social justice from a Terrorist State that has shown that they have no care for our rights... as being un-Canadian...

Tarek Fatah... will you deny yourself from standing proud amongst Khalistani Sikhs who define themselves as being Canadians through the pride in fighting for justice for all people, regardless of nationality...? Will you join us in taking pride in the Blue helmet and uniforms pridefully amended by Canada amongst United Nations Peacekeepers...

Or will you continue deny suffering human beings their right for justice, because you feel that justice is a luxury that can only be given to those with a Canadian Citizenship?"

Posted by Amneet Singh to THE ROAD TO KHALISTAN at Sunday, 01 July, 2007