The Dreaded Phone Call

Red PhoneThe phone rings and its the call you dread as an uncle or older cousin. A desperate parent is on the other end asking for your help. Your teenage nephew/cousin wants to cut his hair. Can you please talk some sense into him.

This happened to me last week with my cousin and, I have to admit, I was woefully unprepared. While I’ve given lots of talks on Sikhi at Sikh camps and to non-Sikh audiences, I’ve never had to actually have this kind of discussion. One where I may be the determining factor in an individual’s major life decision.But what could I offer that he hadn’t already heard? How could I change the mind of a guy that’s already decided? He’s grown up in a Sikh family, his entire family keeps their hair. He has lots of Sikh friends and lives in a Sikh part of town. He should have picked up Sikhi through osmosis, but he hasn’t.

His parents have tried their best but working multiple jobs and struggling financially, putting food on the table has been their priority. And like many Punjabi Sikh parents, they’ve assumed that being surrounded by Sikh culture would be enough. So they’re shocked, betrayed, angered, hurt and deeply saddened when they’re son finally musters up enough courage to talk to them.

ScissorsLike many others in his situation, I also suspect that Sikhi has largely been conveyed to my cousin through guilt or fear. Cut your hair and your Dad will beat you to death and your Mom will cry herself to death. So how do you teach Sikhi through love? How do you instill the self-confidence, comfort and belonging that comes with being in love with your Guru? How do you get someone to hold their dastaar-adorned head up with pride instead of hung in shame? I can see many parents struggling with this on a daily basis.

Where does gurparsad fit in? Maybe he’s just not in a position to receive the Guru’s blessing? At the same time, he’s never been exposed to things that helped me solidify my identity. He’s never read We Are Not Symbols or been to any Sikh retreats. He really doesn’t understand Gurbani nor is he very fluent in Punjabi.

So I haven’t talked to him yet. I’ll see him face to face over the holidays. I know that the first thing I will try to do is to listen; really listen without judgment. This must be tearing him up. But what else? How do I get him to postpone his decision long enough to consider other points of view.

Have you been in this situation? What do you suggest?


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22 Responses to “The Dreaded Phone Call”

  1. When I have been confronted with this problem, I always tell the story about how my husband and 13 year old son chose martyrdom over cutting back in Delhi, 1984. I show them some of my scars from our fighting that day in November, as well. This is powerful and, at least, makes them stop and think. I am not sure that playing "the 1984" card is fair, but it is effective.

    In the end, though, it is a personal decision. Looking different – being different – is difficult. We are all at different places on this journey. If he is not at the point where he is strong enough to look Sikh, or if he has no belief in Sikhi, it might just be hypocrisy to keep kesh. I don't know.

    Just speak what is in your heart and trust in Guru's kirpaa. That is my advice.

  2. Singh says:

    MLS,

    Twice I have been in a similar position…both very awkward and in both I had no idea of what to say myself. Each situation was unique:

    In the first, family friends called and asked my parents if I would speak with their son who is my age (17 at the time) – he was going away for school and had decided that he was leaving Sikhi. I went over. He was pretty convinced that Sikhi was not the way for him – before I even got there – and I didn’t argue with him. I told him why I chose (and I did choose) my faith and why I feel its important. He listened, we discussed Sikhi, and then we watched Dogma. He was not moved and I don’t think he classifies himself as a Sikh anymore. For him it was not about identity as much as it was about not believing in God, so his decision was not based on a lack of love, but a lack of belief.

    The second time – an acquaintance/gurdwara friend, who was about 18 at the time, decided to cut his hair. His immediate family was into Sikh and he played high school football while maintaining his nitmen and rehit. His mom called me, I think as a last ditch effort, and asked me to talk to him. I wasn’t able to talk to him until after he had “done the deed.” He came to me after his haircut, he cried, but said that he was not strong enough to keep his Sikh identity. I really didn’t have much to say, except to offer his an ear. I found out later that he had been hanging out with family members who were not as supportive of his sarroop and that some people thought it was a big factor in his decision.

    So these are the two situations. They are just things to think about I guess…

    As a side note – I think a big part of how we feel about our identities is who we hang out with. Its not a mistake that Guru Sahib speaks so highly of and extensively about “sangat.” I have seen first hand, examples of kids and grown ups who adopt Sikhi and choose to keep the identity because of the love they feel when they are around a Gurmukh/Gursikh sangat. So the only advice/suggestion I have is that, if its not too late already, and if it is possible, you encourage and maybe facilitate opportunities for him to hang out with people his age who are into Sikhi and with whom he can relate. I think that is one of the simplest ways of showing how much love Sikhi holds.

  3. Singh says:

    MLS,

    Twice I have been in a similar position…both very awkward and in both I had no idea of what to say myself. Each situation was unique:

    In the first, family friends called and asked my parents if I would speak with their son who is my age (17 at the time) – he was going away for school and had decided that he was leaving Sikhi. I went over. He was pretty convinced that Sikhi was not the way for him – before I even got there – and I didn't argue with him. I told him why I chose (and I did choose) my faith and why I feel its important. He listened, we discussed Sikhi, and then we watched Dogma. He was not moved and I don't think he classifies himself as a Sikh anymore. For him it was not about identity as much as it was about not believing in God, so his decision was not based on a lack of love, but a lack of belief.

    The second time – an acquaintance/gurdwara friend, who was about 18 at the time, decided to cut his hair. His immediate family was into Sikh and he played high school football while maintaining his nitmen and rehit. His mom called me, I think as a last ditch effort, and asked me to talk to him. I wasn't able to talk to him until after he had "done the deed." He came to me after his haircut, he cried, but said that he was not strong enough to keep his Sikh identity. I really didn't have much to say, except to offer his an ear. I found out later that he had been hanging out with family members who were not as supportive of his sarroop and that some people thought it was a big factor in his decision.

    So these are the two situations. They are just things to think about I guess…

    As a side note – I think a big part of how we feel about our identities is who we hang out with. Its not a mistake that Guru Sahib speaks so highly of and extensively about "sangat." I have seen first hand, examples of kids and grown ups who adopt Sikhi and choose to keep the identity because of the love they feel when they are around a Gurmukh/Gursikh sangat. So the only advice/suggestion I have is that, if its not too late already, and if it is possible, you encourage and maybe facilitate opportunities for him to hang out with people his age who are into Sikhi and with whom he can relate. I think that is one of the simplest ways of showing how much love Sikhi holds.

  4. When I have been confronted with this problem, I always tell the story about how my husband and 13 year old son chose martyrdom over cutting back in Delhi, 1984. I show them some of my scars from our fighting that day in November, as well. This is powerful and, at least, makes them stop and think. I am not sure that playing “the 1984” card is fair, but it is effective.

    In the end, though, it is a personal decision. Looking different – being different – is difficult. We are all at different places on this journey. If he is not at the point where he is strong enough to look Sikh, or if he has no belief in Sikhi, it might just be hypocrisy to keep kesh. I don’t know.

    Just speak what is in your heart and trust in Guru’s kirpaa. That is my advice.

  5. I wholly agree with the last line of Harinder Kaur Ji,

    Just speak what is in your heart and trust in Guru’s kirpaa. That is my advice.

    I personally have experienced it. In these situations, there is nothing you can prepare actually. Just before your conversation starts, close your eyes, pray to Waheguru that all I'm going to speak is with Your Blessings, and whatever is going to happen would be in Your Will

  6. I wholly agree with the last line of Harinder Kaur Ji,

    Just speak what is in your heart and trust in Gurus kirpaa. That is my advice.

    I personally have experienced it. In these situations, there is nothing you can prepare actually. Just before your conversation starts, close your eyes, pray to Waheguru that all I’m going to speak is with Your Blessings, and whatever is going to happen would be in Your Will

  7. Kaptaan says:

    The sangat your child keeps is very important. You should tell the boy that his parents have failed him as they valued material comforts before his spiritual education. Second, you should tell him that their failure will become his own if he decides to cut his hair without first exploring and understanding Sikh Dharma and Sikh lifestyle. You should ask him, why he feels he should lose out just because his parents have failed through ignorance or not taking an interest in him and his company or whatever else the case may be. Tell him to make an informed decision, one that he may come to regret later.

    The other thing you should do, which is very important, is tell his parents that they have failed him and its a sad situation that they have only turned for help when it is virtually too late. Ask them why they neglected the boy's spiritual education? Ask why they never enrolled him in any Sikh retreat or if in the GTA took him to kirtan/ gurmat classes at any of the local Gurdwaras? Ask why if there wasn't a class they didn't take him to Gurdwara on their own and make arrangements to have him learn kirtan/ tabla/ waja/ etc… from one of the ragis there? (it can be done, as my own nephew has learned tabla and shabads in this manner and has learned about Sikhi from the resident 'Granthi')…

    His parents should realize that this failure is not a failure of character in the boy, but a direct result of their failure as parents to spiritually educate the boy. They should apologize to the boy for neglecting his spiritual being and their responsibility for inculcating him with the Sikhi which was his birthright. However, they should also tell the boy that where they failed he has a chance to succeed. That something good can come of this situation.

  8. Kaptaan says:

    The sangat your child keeps is very important. You should tell the boy that his parents have failed him as they valued material comforts before his spiritual education. Second, you should tell him that their failure will become his own if he decides to cut his hair without first exploring and understanding Sikh Dharma and Sikh lifestyle. You should ask him, why he feels he should lose out just because his parents have failed through ignorance or not taking an interest in him and his company or whatever else the case may be. Tell him to make an informed decision, one that he may come to regret later.

    The other thing you should do, which is very important, is tell his parents that they have failed him and its a sad situation that they have only turned for help when it is virtually too late. Ask them why they neglected the boy’s spiritual education? Ask why they never enrolled him in any Sikh retreat or if in the GTA took him to kirtan/ gurmat classes at any of the local Gurdwaras? Ask why if there wasn’t a class they didn’t take him to Gurdwara on their own and make arrangements to have him learn kirtan/ tabla/ waja/ etc… from one of the ragis there? (it can be done, as my own nephew has learned tabla and shabads in this manner and has learned about Sikhi from the resident ‘Granthi’)…

    His parents should realize that this failure is not a failure of character in the boy, but a direct result of their failure as parents to spiritually educate the boy. They should apologize to the boy for neglecting his spiritual being and their responsibility for inculcating him with the Sikhi which was his birthright. However, they should also tell the boy that where they failed he has a chance to succeed. That something good can come of this situation.

  9. TruthSingh says:

    I just don't get why it is a big deal? Everyone has to walk their own path.

    I give this person respect for coming to grips with the fact that Sikhi isn't for him and I respect those that admit they can't handle it and live as Sehajdaris.

    One of my biggest issues is with those that keep the look, but don't keep the lifestyle. Not saying this is the case here, but I have wondered why many live in fear of being outcasts by friends and family when they do things that are against the maryaada of a singh. Just be yourself, whatever that may be.

    I just found out my cousins just cut their hair. Both are in 17-20 age range. My aunt went crazy on them, but when I see them, I'll show them the same love regardless.

    I think the issue starts when we are young. Many don't have a choice and are raised in a certain faith all their lives. Eventually there comes a point where one must chose his/her own path to god, if they want to reach him at all.

    Many times, people that I've known that have done it, have done it for the females. Not saying thats happened here, but people who choose to ignore that as being a huge factor for young males in the west aren't getting a straight answers then.

    Being a Sikh isn't easy, or else everyone would be one.

  10. TruthSingh says:

    I just don’t get why it is a big deal? Everyone has to walk their own path.

    I give this person respect for coming to grips with the fact that Sikhi isn’t for him and I respect those that admit they can’t handle it and live as Sehajdaris.

    One of my biggest issues is with those that keep the look, but don’t keep the lifestyle. Not saying this is the case here, but I have wondered why many live in fear of being outcasts by friends and family when they do things that are against the maryaada of a singh. Just be yourself, whatever that may be.

    I just found out my cousins just cut their hair. Both are in 17-20 age range. My aunt went crazy on them, but when I see them, I’ll show them the same love regardless.

    I think the issue starts when we are young. Many don’t have a choice and are raised in a certain faith all their lives. Eventually there comes a point where one must chose his/her own path to god, if they want to reach him at all.

    Many times, people that I’ve known that have done it, have done it for the females. Not saying thats happened here, but people who choose to ignore that as being a huge factor for young males in the west aren’t getting a straight answers then.

    Being a Sikh isn’t easy, or else everyone would be one.

  11. Camille says:

    MLS, when I've been in this position I've often asked the person what their underlying reasons/rationale are for leaving the faith. I've found that oftentimes people haven't had a chance to talk it through or process — instead they've been threatened, yelled at, guilt tripped, etc. Sometimes the outcome is a true break with the faith (as described by Singh, above), and other times the break is with external forces, for example, a sense of disconnect with the sangat or a strong sense of alienation from non-Sikhs (i.e., prejudice, stereotyping, and bullying). I do agree, though, that what I've found consistent among those who had the option and ultimately chose not to cut their hair was a) a loving and supportive family, and b) a Gursikh sangat / support group. From there we've often moved into a "problem-solving" model or method, which usually helps a lot in clarifying each issue and mapping out possible outcomes or solutions. Sometimes, however, there's a true break with the faith on a spiritual level, and I don't think that can be "fixed" or "resolved" — as painful as it is, Sikhi is a voluntary commitment and should not be forced on anyone. I don't think a person can (or should) choose Sikhi out of fear of the social/personal or even spiritual repercussions; I think the only thing that will keep you grounded when the going gets tough is a sense of love/connection and positivity towards the faith. I've seen any number of loving, Gursikh parents have their children leave the faith, despite doing their best to ensure their children were given a strong education in Sikhi and by offering a message of love, not threats/fear. Sometimes these issues are no one's fault.

  12. Camille says:

    MLS, when I’ve been in this position I’ve often asked the person what their underlying reasons/rationale are for leaving the faith. I’ve found that oftentimes people haven’t had a chance to talk it through or process — instead they’ve been threatened, yelled at, guilt tripped, etc. Sometimes the outcome is a true break with the faith (as described by Singh, above), and other times the break is with external forces, for example, a sense of disconnect with the sangat or a strong sense of alienation from non-Sikhs (i.e., prejudice, stereotyping, and bullying). I do agree, though, that what I’ve found consistent among those who had the option and ultimately chose not to cut their hair was a) a loving and supportive family, and b) a Gursikh sangat / support group. From there we’ve often moved into a “problem-solving” model or method, which usually helps a lot in clarifying each issue and mapping out possible outcomes or solutions. Sometimes, however, there’s a true break with the faith on a spiritual level, and I don’t think that can be “fixed” or “resolved” — as painful as it is, Sikhi is a voluntary commitment and should not be forced on anyone. I don’t think a person can (or should) choose Sikhi out of fear of the social/personal or even spiritual repercussions; I think the only thing that will keep you grounded when the going gets tough is a sense of love/connection and positivity towards the faith. I’ve seen any number of loving, Gursikh parents have their children leave the faith, despite doing their best to ensure their children were given a strong education in Sikhi and by offering a message of love, not threats/fear. Sometimes these issues are no one’s fault.

  13. Simran says:

    MLS,

    There is enough said about the topic already and I am adding my own rambling :).

    Unless, one has some sorta connection with the Guru the "5 gifts", "symbols", "sikh identity markers" whatever name one may want to give them become very difficult to maintain. It is hard to give that connection in a form of a pill to the Guru after the decision is already made. Discussing your personal relationship & experience has some merit.

    Being hard headed, non-accepting and making him feel bad about his decision is not going to change anything or help positively. His answer has to come from within.

    We had a high-flying, talented sabat soorat Sardar @ UC Irvine whom I admired whose dad made him feel so bad about his decision to cut his hair that the guy jumped out the car while it was being driven on the freeway and suffered serious injuries. We never saw him again and heard this dad was taking care of him in the hospital for atleast a year when I left.

    I have never visited the guy in person and didn't feel the urge to but I was left with a question: Would I rather see a person whom I am attached to or love half-dead or disabled for life than be without is "identity markers" that he doesn't associate with?

    I don't interact with another popular, Kirtan singing, educated, " now ex-Sardar" that comes to samagams. He wanted to fit in with his University peers and as a result got his engagement broken off with a nice Sardarni who loved him. People like these do suffer quite a bit either way and earn their right to exist. If they don't associate with another faith they are still Sikhs (right?).

    It hurts sometimes but thanks to our elders who did a great job in writing the Ardaas we have the love filled answer. We must remember them in our prayers when we say "Sikhaan Da Mun Nivan Mut Uchi…Sikhaan Nu Sikhi Daan, Kes Daan, Visah Daan, Bharosa Daan…"

    There is always a call for a head it is either by Guru Gobind Singh or "the real/unreal world". On April 14, 1699 only 5 out of the 80,000 were really ready in the Guru's physical presence. Let's pray that our minds remain imbued with "Prem Bani" so that we are able to do the actual "Amrit Chakna" and become true Prem Bhagat Vale Khalse. That is the best we can do!

  14. Simran says:

    MLS,

    There is enough said about the topic already and I am adding my own rambling :).

    Unless, one has some sorta connection with the Guru the “5 gifts”, “symbols”, “sikh identity markers” whatever name one may want to give them become very difficult to maintain. It is hard to give that connection in a form of a pill to the Guru after the decision is already made. Discussing your personal relationship & experience has some merit.

    Being hard headed, non-accepting and making him feel bad about his decision is not going to change anything or help positively. His answer has to come from within.

    We had a high-flying, talented sabat soorat Sardar @ UC Irvine whom I admired whose dad made him feel so bad about his decision to cut his hair that the guy jumped out the car while it was being driven on the freeway and suffered serious injuries. We never saw him again and heard this dad was taking care of him in the hospital for atleast a year when I left.

    I have never visited the guy in person and didn’t feel the urge to but I was left with a question: Would I rather see a person whom I am attached to or love half-dead or disabled for life than be without is “identity markers” that he doesn’t associate with?

    I don’t interact with another popular, Kirtan singing, educated, ” now ex-Sardar” that comes to samagams. He wanted to fit in with his University peers and as a result got his engagement broken off with a nice Sardarni who loved him. People like these do suffer quite a bit either way and earn their right to exist. If they don’t associate with another faith they are still Sikhs (right?).

    It hurts sometimes but thanks to our elders who did a great job in writing the Ardaas we have the love filled answer. We must remember them in our prayers when we say “Sikhaan Da Mun Nivan Mut Uchi…Sikhaan Nu Sikhi Daan, Kes Daan, Visah Daan, Bharosa Daan…”

    There is always a call for a head it is either by Guru Gobind Singh or “the real/unreal world”. On April 14, 1699 only 5 out of the 80,000 were really ready in the Guru’s physical presence. Let’s pray that our minds remain imbued with “Prem Bani” so that we are able to do the actual “Amrit Chakna” and become true Prem Bhagat Vale Khalse. That is the best we can do!

  15. Jodha says:

    Touching words Simran!

  16. Jodha says:

    Touching words Simran!

  17. When we are in teenage, their r many social, emotional changes which go into us… The desire of being a rebal somehow starts overcoming our family values and learnings… and i would say it happens with almost each one of us. When v are not in state of mind to c long term effects of single act…. in this age.

    I think this boy is also going throught this transformation phase…. wht he needs is someone who can restore his belief and faith in himself… He is in IDENTITY Crises phase.

    And best thing and only thing which i c would work.. best would be to give this boy chance to speak out his thoughts about life, his friends, his norms he beliefs/ don't belief in…. wht he would gain or achieve the next day after choping his hair…

    Would his frds/teachers/classmates/ neighbours/ colleuges/ his FEMALE frds…. anyone would give him special treatment or importance after his this act….

    Will he win anyone trust or heart by it ?

    Will he feel more confident or independent by doing so ?

    Will he start getting better grades in school or promotion in job ?

    Will he feel proud by knwing tht for years he use to Gurudware or School wearning turban or pattka and now.. no-one actually recognize him without turban……. he is now jst another kid amoung thousands in school…. and has lost his identity itself……..

    What actually he is looking forward by doing this act as long as you don't knw that. You shall never have a sound sleep… fear that may be tommorow… he might say the same thing or actually go and do it will keep hunting at the back of ur head.

    So in this situation…… if u ask me.. best is to … talk to him.. listen to his view point.. and logic or belief for thinking of cutting his hair… and make him feel tht its not jst about him.. but now he is grownup and he is icon of his community and family…. any action of his…. resembles the very basic values of his family & culture….

    Changing urself jst to avoid problems is not a solution….

    Its wht HE IS AS A INDIVIDUAL tht MAKES HIM A MAN…. AND NOT WHT WORLD WANTS HIM TO BE LIKE OR DO…. can earn him respect……..

    i think you guys need to pump in motivation and self esteam of this boy… he express his wish because he is still not sure if he is right and worng…. now its upto you……… to put efforts and help ur kid pass the test of life…….ITS YOUR EXAM NOW…….. YOU NEED TO BUT ALL EFFORTS TO HELP HIM TAKE RIGHT DECISSION AND STICK TO HIS RELIGIOUS AND FAMILY FALUES………..

    And if u don't have time or spirit either… then please stop giving excuse tht kid is wrong……..

    He needs ur help and u r running away form helping him………..

  18. When we are in teenage, their r many social, emotional changes which go into us… The desire of being a rebal somehow starts overcoming our family values and learnings… and i would say it happens with almost each one of us. When v are not in state of mind to c long term effects of single act…. in this age.

    I think this boy is also going throught this transformation phase…. wht he needs is someone who can restore his belief and faith in himself… He is in IDENTITY Crises phase.
    And best thing and only thing which i c would work.. best would be to give this boy chance to speak out his thoughts about life, his friends, his norms he beliefs/ don’t belief in…. wht he would gain or achieve the next day after choping his hair…

    Would his frds/teachers/classmates/ neighbours/ colleuges/ his FEMALE frds…. anyone would give him special treatment or importance after his this act….
    Will he win anyone trust or heart by it ?
    Will he feel more confident or independent by doing so ?
    Will he start getting better grades in school or promotion in job ?
    Will he feel proud by knwing tht for years he use to Gurudware or School wearning turban or pattka and now.. no-one actually recognize him without turban……. he is now jst another kid amoung thousands in school…. and has lost his identity itself……..

    What actually he is looking forward by doing this act as long as you don’t knw that. You shall never have a sound sleep… fear that may be tommorow… he might say the same thing or actually go and do it will keep hunting at the back of ur head.

    So in this situation…… if u ask me.. best is to … talk to him.. listen to his view point.. and logic or belief for thinking of cutting his hair… and make him feel tht its not jst about him.. but now he is grownup and he is icon of his community and family…. any action of his…. resembles the very basic values of his family & culture….

    Changing urself jst to avoid problems is not a solution….
    Its wht HE IS AS A INDIVIDUAL tht MAKES HIM A MAN…. AND NOT WHT WORLD WANTS HIM TO BE LIKE OR DO…. can earn him respect……..

    i think you guys need to pump in motivation and self esteam of this boy… he express his wish because he is still not sure if he is right and worng…. now its upto you……… to put efforts and help ur kid pass the test of life…….ITS YOUR EXAM NOW…….. YOU NEED TO BUT ALL EFFORTS TO HELP HIM TAKE RIGHT DECISSION AND STICK TO HIS RELIGIOUS AND FAMILY FALUES………..

    And if u don’t have time or spirit either… then please stop giving excuse tht kid is wrong……..

    He needs ur help and u r running away form helping him………..

  19. Harpreet says:

    each person is different and it seems that most people are judging one's decision on this forum. I come from a religious, but not conservative, family. My parents are traditional sikhs by look, yet very modern thinking. my brother and I have always been able to make our own decisions, my parents never "failed" us or themselves by letting us cut our hair. we were raised to make our own decisions and be ourselves. Spirituality is something that comes from within and the people around you shouldn't talk to you out a personal decision. We are not to judge our brother/sisters who decide to cut their hair, because ultimately that is a decision that they must live it.

  20. Harpreet says:

    each person is different and it seems that most people are judging one’s decision on this forum. I come from a religious, but not conservative, family. My parents are traditional sikhs by look, yet very modern thinking. my brother and I have always been able to make our own decisions, my parents never “failed” us or themselves by letting us cut our hair. we were raised to make our own decisions and be ourselves. Spirituality is something that comes from within and the people around you shouldn’t talk to you out a personal decision. We are not to judge our brother/sisters who decide to cut their hair, because ultimately that is a decision that they must live it.

  21. hs says:

    Guru Pyaareyo,

    waheguru jee kaa khalsa waheguru jee kee fateh,

    Here is a true story. It has helped someone and I am sure it will help the family in talk here also.

    Naked eyes

    Sikhi was never of any importance to me. I was still young, and always believed it was something that

    people did in their fifty’s to pass time. I wanted to “live life to the fullest,” and that wasn’t possible

    if I was living the lifestyle of a Sikh. I didn’t care to understand the concept of God, or why people had so

    much faith in Him. All I cared about was looking good, and having as much fun as I could before I got married

    (I knew my parents would marry me off to a Sikh). If I was to get into Sikhi it would be a lot later in my

    life.

    I had just turned 22, and because I had finished my degree and was able to support myself, I thought it

    was time that I went my own way. I had been under the control of my parents all of my life and although I

    respected that they were devoted to Sikhi, I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted in my life.

    I had been thinking about getting my hair trimmed for a while. I was getting sick of putting my hair up in a

    bun. My eyebrows took after my Pitaa Jee, bushy as can be, and I couldn’t wait to get those plucked.

    I didn’t tell my parents since I felt I was old enough to make my own decisions. I knew it was a bit selfish

    of me to go behind their backs, but I didn’t think too much of it.

    I went into the shop and got my hair trimmed a couple of centimeters and had my eyebrows shaped. There was a

    look of accomplishment when I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time. The reflection showed a new

    person, it was the person I always wanted to be.

    “Freedom!” I remember thinking to myself.

    I drove up into the garage of the house I had lived in for the last ten years of my life, and hoped that it

    would recognize me. As I walked into the house, I could feel my heart beating rapidly. My parents were

    in the kitchen so I walked in hastily, said my hello’s and headed into my room.

    I didn’t stay long enough in the kitchen to see my parents’ reactions. Maataa Jee had just looked up at

    me when I left and Pitaa Jee was too absorbed reading the Punjabi newspaper.

    I could hear murmurs coming from the living room. And then for a couple of minutes they stopped. My heart

    was beating so fast.

    “Simran?” I could hear my mom calling for me.

    At first I didn’t want to answer.

    “Hunjee Maataa Jee?” I whispered back hoping she

    wouldn’t hear me.

    “Can you come outside please?”

    “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.”

    I started feeling guilty for cutting my hair but kept my composure and walked down the hall towards the

    living room.

    My parents were sitting cross legged on the rug, holding gutkay in their hands. My mom looked up at me

    and handed me a gutka and then nodded her head downwards (her way of telling me to sit down).

    It was the first time since I can remember that my parents called me to do paat with them. At first I

    wanted to get up and tell them I had work to do but then I just felt relieved that they weren’t yelling at

    me, so I sat down beside my mom and read along with Reharaas.

    Reharaas was finally over, and by this time I was yawning and just wanted to go to bed. We all got up to

    do ardaas. Pitaa Jee did it. Although I didn’t care for Sikhi, ardaas was the one aspect of Sikhi that

    meant something to me so I actually listened to the ardaas.

    Pitaa Jee came to the end of the ardaas. He did ardaas for Reharaas and then in a calm loving tone he asked,

    “Guru Sahib Jee, please bless our daughter with a Gursikhi life. Sachey Paatshah Saadee sabhnaa dee Sikhee Kesaa Suaasaa Sang Nibhaaho Jee”

    Maataa Jee was sobbing. I wanted to cry as well, not because I felt guilty but because I was hurt. Why

    would they do that to me? They could have done ardaas on their own time.

    I didn’t sleep that whole night. Pitaa Jee’s words kept running through my head no matter how high I

    turned up the radio.

    Two months had gone by. I kept my distance from my parents and even when Maataa Jee tried to talk to me I

    gave her one word answers. Although two months had passed, I could still hear Pitaa Jee’s voice from that

    night. His ardaas was straight from his heart and I was afraid that it would come true. I had even done

    ardaas to undo the ardaas he did.

    That night my good friend was having a keertan at the Gurudwara. I never liked going to anyone’s programs,

    especially if they were at the Gurudwara, but that day I kept getting this push from inside to go.

    I arrived at the Gurudwara early and after failing to find someone I knew I proceeded towards the main

    darbar hall. I took a glance at Guru Granth Sahib Jee to make sure I was walking in the right direction. As

    I looked down at the ground I felt warmth take over my body. I felt calm. The vision of Guru Granth Sahib Jee

    covered with royal blue ramalay was grounded in my mind. I stood still for a moment and embraced the

    vision in my heart. Everything around me slowly disappeared.

    I took a step forward and then another, until I had reached the end.

    I looked up at the Guru.

    My mind was silenced in admiration of the beauty that was in front

    of me.

    I once again remembered Pitaa Jee’s ardaas and started to shed tears. Kneeling down to Maataa taake I

    could hear Pitaa Jee’s words so clearly,

    “Guru Sahib Jee please bless our daughter with a Gursikhi life. Sachey Paatshah! Saadee sabhnaa dee Sikhee Kesaa Suaasaa Sang Nibhaaho Jee”

    The moment my forehead touched the Guru’s Charan I could hear whispers in my ear. I was trying to listen

    to what was being said but I couldn’t make out the words. I concentrated and tried again to listen to the

    sounds.

    “Vahe-Guroo. Vahe-Guroo. Vahe-Guroo…”

    At that time I didn’t know what to think of the moment. But, with the energy I had left I got up and

    sat in the Sangath. Time had vanished. My eyes were tightly fastened together and my mind was still. A

    soft white filled the room and I could hear more voices repeating “Vahe-Guroo.” I absorbed myself in

    the moment.

    Some time had gone by and I could see two figures appear in the distance. They were too far away for me

    to see if they were male or female but I could see that one was shorter than the other. I couldn’t see

    any details because the colours were meshed into one blur consisting of black, red and a pale brown. I

    tried to focus on the two figures hoping that I could piece together who they were.

    The two figures had vanished and then for a split second materialized again and this time I could see

    them clearly.

    That was the day that my Pitaa Jee’s ardaas had been answered. I took Amrit a week later. Every night in my

    ardaas I ask that everyone be blessed with a Gursikhi life.

    There are still days that go by when I feel distant from Sikhi. But, when those days come, I think back to

    the day when Guru Sahib Jee, with my naked eyes, showed me the Piyaar in the face of Bhai Taru Singh

    Jee as his scalp was being cut away from his body.

    Dey Kai Kes Dshmesh Ney Kehaa Moonho

    Jaao Baksheeyaa Aj sardaareeyaa nai

    Kanghaa ferdeyaa Ai Par Yaad Rakhnaa

    Tuhaadeeyaa Soortaa Menoo Bahut Pyaareeyaa Nai

  22. hs says:

    Guru Pyaareyo,
    waheguru jee kaa khalsa waheguru jee kee fateh,

    Here is a true story. It has helped someone and I am sure it will help the family in talk here also.

    Naked eyes

    Sikhi was never of any importance to me. I was still young, and always believed it was something that
    people did in their fiftys to pass time. I wanted to live life to the fullest, and that wasnt possible
    if I was living the lifestyle of a Sikh. I didnt care to understand the concept of God, or why people had so
    much faith in Him. All I cared about was looking good, and having as much fun as I could before I got married
    (I knew my parents would marry me off to a Sikh). If I was to get into Sikhi it would be a lot later in my
    life.

    I had just turned 22, and because I had finished my degree and was able to support myself, I thought it
    was time that I went my own way. I had been under the control of my parents all of my life and although I
    respected that they were devoted to Sikhi, I knew that it wasnt what I wanted in my life.

    I had been thinking about getting my hair trimmed for a while. I was getting sick of putting my hair up in a
    bun. My eyebrows took after my Pitaa Jee, bushy as can be, and I couldnt wait to get those plucked.

    I didnt tell my parents since I felt I was old enough to make my own decisions. I knew it was a bit selfish
    of me to go behind their backs, but I didnt think too much of it.

    I went into the shop and got my hair trimmed a couple of centimeters and had my eyebrows shaped. There was a
    look of accomplishment when I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time. The reflection showed a new
    person, it was the person I always wanted to be.

    Freedom! I remember thinking to myself.

    I drove up into the garage of the house I had lived in for the last ten years of my life, and hoped that it
    would recognize me. As I walked into the house, I could feel my heart beating rapidly. My parents were
    in the kitchen so I walked in hastily, said my hellos and headed into my room.

    I didnt stay long enough in the kitchen to see my parents reactions. Maataa Jee had just looked up at
    me when I left and Pitaa Jee was too absorbed reading the Punjabi newspaper.

    I could hear murmurs coming from the living room. And then for a couple of minutes they stopped. My heart
    was beating so fast.

    Simran? I could hear my mom calling for me.

    At first I didnt want to answer.

    Hunjee Maataa Jee? I whispered back hoping she
    wouldnt hear me.

    Can you come outside please?

    Okay, Ill be there in a minute.

    I started feeling guilty for cutting my hair but kept my composure and walked down the hall towards the
    living room.

    My parents were sitting cross legged on the rug, holding gutkay in their hands. My mom looked up at me
    and handed me a gutka and then nodded her head downwards (her way of telling me to sit down).
    It was the first time since I can remember that my parents called me to do paat with them. At first I
    wanted to get up and tell them I had work to do but then I just felt relieved that they werent yelling at
    me, so I sat down beside my mom and read along with Reharaas.

    Reharaas was finally over, and by this time I was yawning and just wanted to go to bed. We all got up to
    do ardaas. Pitaa Jee did it. Although I didnt care for Sikhi, ardaas was the one aspect of Sikhi that
    meant something to me so I actually listened to the ardaas.

    Pitaa Jee came to the end of the ardaas. He did ardaas for Reharaas and then in a calm loving tone he asked,

    Guru Sahib Jee, please bless our daughter with a Gursikhi life. Sachey Paatshah Saadee sabhnaa dee Sikhee Kesaa Suaasaa Sang Nibhaaho Jee

    Maataa Jee was sobbing. I wanted to cry as well, not because I felt guilty but because I was hurt. Why
    would they do that to me? They could have done ardaas on their own time.

    I didnt sleep that whole night. Pitaa Jees words kept running through my head no matter how high I
    turned up the radio.

    Two months had gone by. I kept my distance from my parents and even when Maataa Jee tried to talk to me I
    gave her one word answers. Although two months had passed, I could still hear Pitaa Jees voice from that
    night. His ardaas was straight from his heart and I was afraid that it would come true. I had even done
    ardaas to undo the ardaas he did.

    That night my good friend was having a keertan at the Gurudwara. I never liked going to anyones programs,
    especially if they were at the Gurudwara, but that day I kept getting this push from inside to go.

    I arrived at the Gurudwara early and after failing to find someone I knew I proceeded towards the main
    darbar hall. I took a glance at Guru Granth Sahib Jee to make sure I was walking in the right direction. As
    I looked down at the ground I felt warmth take over my body. I felt calm. The vision of Guru Granth Sahib Jee
    covered with royal blue ramalay was grounded in my mind. I stood still for a moment and embraced the
    vision in my heart. Everything around me slowly disappeared.

    I took a step forward and then another, until I had reached the end.
    I looked up at the Guru.
    My mind was silenced in admiration of the beauty that was in front
    of me.
    I once again remembered Pitaa Jees ardaas and started to shed tears. Kneeling down to Maataa taake I
    could hear Pitaa Jees words so clearly,
    Guru Sahib Jee please bless our daughter with a Gursikhi life. Sachey Paatshah! Saadee sabhnaa dee Sikhee Kesaa Suaasaa Sang Nibhaaho Jee

    The moment my forehead touched the Gurus Charan I could hear whispers in my ear. I was trying to listen
    to what was being said but I couldnt make out the words. I concentrated and tried again to listen to the
    sounds.

    Vahe-Guroo. Vahe-Guroo. Vahe-Guroo

    At that time I didnt know what to think of the moment. But, with the energy I had left I got up and
    sat in the Sangath. Time had vanished. My eyes were tightly fastened together and my mind was still. A
    soft white filled the room and I could hear more voices repeating Vahe-Guroo. I absorbed myself in
    the moment.

    Some time had gone by and I could see two figures appear in the distance. They were too far away for me
    to see if they were male or female but I could see that one was shorter than the other. I couldnt see
    any details because the colours were meshed into one blur consisting of black, red and a pale brown. I
    tried to focus on the two figures hoping that I could piece together who they were.

    The two figures had vanished and then for a split second materialized again and this time I could see
    them clearly.

    That was the day that my Pitaa Jees ardaas had been answered. I took Amrit a week later. Every night in my
    ardaas I ask that everyone be blessed with a Gursikhi life.

    There are still days that go by when I feel distant from Sikhi. But, when those days come, I think back to
    the day when Guru Sahib Jee, with my naked eyes, showed me the Piyaar in the face of Bhai Taru Singh
    Jee as his scalp was being cut away from his body.

    Dey Kai Kes Dshmesh Ney Kehaa Moonho
    Jaao Baksheeyaa Aj sardaareeyaa nai

    Kanghaa ferdeyaa Ai Par Yaad Rakhnaa
    Tuhaadeeyaa Soortaa Menoo Bahut Pyaareeyaa Nai