Who Am I?GURMEHAR KAUR
Who am I?
A question, I could’ve answered without any inhibitions or a trace of wariness in my standard cheerful tone only a few weeks ago. Now, I’m not so sure.
Am I who the trolls think I am?
Am I what the media portrayed me as?
Am I what those so-called ‘celebrities’ think of me?
No, I can’t be any of that. That girl you saw flashing all over your television screens, holding a placard in hand, eyebrows raised, gaze fixed at the tiny round lens of a cellphone camera, definitely looked like me. The intensity of her thoughts that reflected in the picture definitely had traces of me. She looked fiery,
I relate to that but then the ‘Breaking News Headlines’ told a different story.
The headlines were not me.
I’m my father’s daughter. I’m my Papa’s Gulgul. I’m his doll. I’m a 2-year-old artist who did not understand words but understood stick figures, which he drew in letters addressed to me.
I’m my mother’s headache, her opinionated, reckless, moody child -- a reflection of her. I’m my sister’s guide to pop culture and her sparring partner before the big matches. I’m also the girl who sits on the first bench during lectures with intentions of interrupting the teacher and starting fiery debates on everything and anything, just because literature is more fun that way.
My friends sort-of-kind-of like me, I’m hoping. They say my humor is dry but works on certain days (I can live with that).
Books and Poetry are my solace. A bibliophile, the library at home is over flooding, and my biggest concern for the last few months has been on how to convince Mom to let me shift her lamps and picture frames to create another shelf.
I’m an idealist. An athlete. A peacenik. I’m not your angry, vindictive war mongering bechaari (‘Poor Girl!’) you hoped me to be. I don’t want war because I know its price; it’s very expensive. Trust me, I know better because I’ve paid it everyday. Still do. There is no bill for it, maybe if there was, some wouldn’t hate me so much. Numbers make it more believable.
The news channel polls screaming, “IS GURMEHAR’S PAIN RIGHT OR WRONG?”, with a certain vote ratio as a result makes so much more sense to us normal public.
And hey! What’s the value of our suffering in front of that? If 51% people think I’m wrong, then I must be wrong. In that case, God knows who’s polluting my mind.
Papa is not here with me; he hasn’t been for 18 years. My limited vocabulary of about 200 words, learnt new words called death, war and Pakistan on the days following August 6th, 1999. For obvious reasons it did take me a few years to actually understand the implied definition of them.
I say implied because, honestly, does anyone even know their true meaning? I live it and I’m still trying to figure it out especially in the sense of the world.
My father -- who died an army hero during an Indo-Pakistani war -- is a martyr but I don’t know him as that. I know him as the man who wore big cargo jackets with pockets full of sweets, whose stubble scratched my nose every time he kissed my forehead, a teacher who taught me how to sip from a straw and introduced me to chewing gum.
I know him as my father. I also know him as the shoulder my tiny self clung to extremely tightly hoping if I held him strongly enough he won’t go.
He went. He just didn’t come back.
My father is a martyr. I’m his daughter.
I am not your “Martyr’s Daughter”.
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Edited for sikhchic,com
April 13, 2017
Conversation about this article
1: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), April 13, 2017, 10:53 AM.
A martyr is one who dies for a noble and righteous cause. The martyr is not only brave but is prepared to fight for righteousness. Skirmishes or war with Pakistan, even through army to army fighting in senseless war-mongering, leads to aimless dying. These deaths cannot be classified as martyrdom.
2: Ajay Singh (Rockville, Maryland, USA), April 13, 2017, 2:02 PM.
Wow! Who can add to that ...?
3: Brig. (Retd) Nawab Singh Heer (New York, USA), April 13, 2017, 4:35 PM.
S. Ajit Singh ji (# 1) -- Whereas you may be right as per true definition of a martyr, but it is an accepted fact that in today's world anyone who is killed in an act of war is called a martyr. So by questioning young daughter of a martyr let us not belittle the sacrifice. It may be any war for any reason, for a soldier it is a sacred duty to lay down his life for the constitution of a country for which he fights. US soldiers, for example, who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War or the Gulf War or the two World Wars, are in my mind all martyrs.
4: D J Singh (USA), April 15, 2017, 3:18 PM.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there any reference to this in Sikh scripture? Any other scripture?
5: D J Singh (USA), April 15, 2017, 3:29 PM.
Dear Gurmehar, I pray for you and your loved ones. May God give you peace.
6: H. Singh (United States), April 16, 2017, 4:01 PM.
Ajit Singh ji (#1) - Then are we also willing to say that the Sikhs who laid down their lives for the Sikh Empire (under Ranjit Singh) weren't martyrs?
7: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), April 17, 2017, 5:49 AM.
H. Singh ji(#6): Death and decay in skirmishes or army to army fighting is an inevitable phenomena and is therefore inescapable. We cannot brand the Sikhs who died serving Maharaja Ranjit Singh carte blanche as martyrs.
8: Jaspal Singh (Mohali, Punjab), April 17, 2017, 7:30 AM.
Well, here's a story of real martyrs depicting the true valour of the Khalsa ... from the Battle of Multan (1818), for Ranjit Singh, against the invading Durranis. One of the crucial cannons being used during the battle by the Khalsa broke its wheel; without it, the cannon could no longer function. Hence, one by one, Khalsa warriors offered themselves to support the weight of the gun on their shoulders, which would allow the cannon to fire but which also meant sure death for the volunteer because of the tremendous kick from the recoil from each firing. A whole line of sant-sipahis stood in line, waiting for their turn. The jathedar (unit commander) joined the lineup alongside his braves. Altogether, 17 Khalsa soldiers thus attained martyrdom and the enemy's wall was breached successfully. A martyr is made from the strength of character that comes with Sikhi, not from mere fighting for a directionless and unscrupulous army led by rogues and scoundrels.
9: D J Singh (USA), April 18, 2017, 5:54 PM.
This is not about Guru Sahib, Sahebzadey or Ranjit Singh. This is the story of a simple, honest soul grieving the loss of her father in her childhood. She is missing a parent and a mentor and a teacher that we all take for granted. Let's be compassionate. Reach out to her. Make her find some meaning in her loss. It will help you too.
10: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), April 19, 2017, 8:49 AM.
Gurmehar ji, the world is to be grappled with as it is and improved upon in every which way we can, but the life in it needs to be spiritualized to make it worthy of our soul. This comes through not by withdrawing from the world but by looking within and seeking the Truth therein. I admire your steadfastness and fearlessness which you have displayed, silencing the errant teachers and fundamentalist student union, and rejecting their distortions and malfeasance.