04 September 2011


All of you know her.  An elderly, tiny, shriveled Khalsa Kaur who seems always to be at every Sikh gathering, but rarely says anything to anyone.  She sits in a corner and keeps to herself, her face expressionless as she does her sewa.  

When I was growing up, there was such an elderly Khalsa Kaur in our sangat.  To me, a young girl, she seemed impossibly ancient, skin wrinkled like a raisin, her teeth often left at home, always dressed in drab colours, her tiny frail body  lost in a chunni that seemed to engulf and swallow her.  She rarely said anything to anyone, quiet, possibly shy and, of course, a widow.  A solitary woman who seemed to almost disappear, unnoticed, into her environment.

She sewed kachera.  Whenever I saw her she was stitching, tiny, even perfect stitches.  To me, being young, I thought she was doing a lot of unnecessary work.  Why not get her a sewing machine?   When I suggested this to Dad, he just gave me a knowing smile and said nothing.  

I decided that if no one else was going to help her, I would.  

So one day, I walked up to her - although I was a bit afraid of her - and said, "Khalsa ji, would you like to have a sewing machine to sew your kachera?"  She stopped her sewing,  looked up at me and did something I had no idea she knew how to do.  She smiled.  A huge, wide, happy smile.  Then she patted the floor beside her, inviting me to sit down beside her, which I did.

Again, she picked up her sewing and began stitching.  That close to her, I could hear her almost silent "Waheguru" with each stitch.  I never again suggested she get a sewing machine.

[Note:  those are pictures of me that I have aged using the magic of Photoshop.  Now I know what I'll look like should I live to be 100.]