Monday, December 27, 2010

Striving to be Kaurageous

I’m a Sikh American. It pains me when all I get as a response to this is puzzlement. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of it.” As the fifth largest religion in the world, with about 25 million followers, how has no one heard of Sikhism?

Following the 9/11 tragedy, the Sikh identity went from being unknown to being misunderstood. Long beards and turbans were all of a sudden seen as something only a “terrorist” would have. And as a result, Sikhs became the second group of victims of 9/11. Eight hundred hate crimes against Sikhs have been reported since. Eight hundred. That’s eight hundred innocent people who were attacked for a misconception. Ignorance is not bliss, people. Ignorance is dangerous.

The worst part is, I live in New York City, and in this great melting pot, known for its tremendous diversity, I’ve experienced this misguided hatred first-hand. If people from the most ethnically diverse city in the world do not know about Sikhs, then can we really expect others to?

There is no awareness. And the sad and unfortunate thing is that a new generation will grow up hearing and believing that anyone wearing a turban is a bad guy. We need to educate children too, so that maybe this misconception can be resolved before it becomes a widespread epidemic. After the 9/11 tragedy, a second-grader told her Sikh classmate (who wears a turban) that he “better watch out” because he’s “going to get beat up.” When questioned by the principal, she merely explained, “He looks just like the guys they said did it on TV.” As evident, the spread has already begun.

It’s not easy to change the world. But what we can do is tell a story. Educate people. Clear this misconception. Every time someone comments on how long my hair is, I take the opportunity to tell him or her about Sikhism. And afterward, one more person knows what a Sikh looks like. And believe it or not, telling one person at a time really can make a difference.

Once in a while, I’ll get the lady on the subway or at the supermarket that says, “Wow, your hair is so long and beautiful! Are you a Sikh?” and I can’t help but smile and think that maybe one day, all those looks of puzzlement will be wiped away from the faces of the world.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Soul Forgotten

I remember how
her breath blossomed
like the feathers
that spill out
of plump pillows,
when she’d laugh

She suffocated herself
with one of those pillows
around four in the morning
one bitter night;

the doctors weren’t quite sure
how she did it
when they found her cold body

three days later.

Her insanity
had driven people to far places
and even though she was harmless,
those ticks
would make something in your gut

Strangers gave her confused stares
and a few would take pity
like little old ladies would say
“God Bless her” under their breaths
or make the sign of the cross
and the people who knew her,
well, they didn’t really care

But when she was gone,
it was funny
how people didn’t notice
‘cause they’d always turned to watch

But I didn’t forget.
And every time the trees would bloom,
I’d remember her laughter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

There are no such things as happy endings.

There are no such things as happy endings.
Sure, once in a while the bad guy gets caught, or the team finally gets a victory after all their hard work. And sometimes the couple realizes that they’re in love after all and they live happily ever after. But what is that? Happily ever after. It sounds like an eternity. In reality, it’s just the opposite. Endings are never happy. Endings are just, well, endings.
When you’re absorbed in a story, a part of you disappears when the story ends, and it never returns. That’s why rereads will never be as satisfying. It’s because once the story ends, you can never really get it back.
I’ve been writing poetry and short stories since I could form words on paper. It all started as cute poems about the seasons back in 1st grade, but eventually I started delving deeper and deeper into writing, and it became my method of venting.
But lately, I’ve become tired of stories. I can never really fit all that’s bubbling inside into a story. Stories aren’t good enough to get it all out.
So I decided to start this blog, as a way of compiling all my thoughts (however unrelated they may be) for as long as I can. And this way, I can tell my story and never have to write an ending. 
So here goes my beginning.
I hope you stick around for all of the many middles to come.