Someone said thank you to me today. It was really quite an experience. “I want to thank you for what you did for us in samelan”. That’s what she said. No one has ever said that to me before. Those exact words. I mean, people say thank you all the time. When you hold the elevator for them. When you pull out a chair for someone. When you answer a query. When you open a door for them. When you pass them the desert. When you give someone back their change. This was just different.
She went back to our Rehraas sessions in samelan. Those half an hour discussions we had daily after our evening prayer. Where what we were supposed to do as Jatha Coordinators was to discuss a particular theme using excerpts from Baani. Talk about what that verse is trying to say, and how we can apply it into our daily lives. What we did was talk about life, love, hope, and the long journey ahead. I wanted them to see God in their own lives, in their own way, leaving Sikhi out of the picture. Many of these youth had shorn hair, which has never been a problem for me, but told me that they came from a different background, grew up in different circles. Each his/her own. There was no use being their local Granthi, or the Raagi Jatha on stage. Even I don’t respond well to that approach.
She reminded me of some of the things we mentioned in those sessions, word for word at times. I personally couldn’t remember most of what was said. I got home and pulled out my Jatha Coordinator’s Guide under the Oodles of Doodles section, in which Sumeet and I spent a considerable amount of time everyday, planning each session. We somehow found the time, even in between the Inspirational Sessions, sometimes quoting them, to come up with the discussion of the day. It was the best part of my day, that. Sumeet was superbly supportive from the beginning. He could see my angle, and understood its need in order for us to connect with the youth, to let them know there was nothing to be afraid of. We would relate our own experiences, give scenarios every teenager was only too familiar with, and let everyone be comfortable with the subject matter, knowing it was familiar territory. The presentation, that is.
She reminded me how we used alternative rock to prove there is divinity in everything. Songs like Coldplay’s “Fix You” and Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move”, were God’s words in a different language with a different musical approach. How we talked about the Kara, and the fact that most of us don’t even know why we wear it. How we talked about Einstein, a man of science, who once said that the more he studied the universe, the more he believed in a higher power. How we talked about the difference between fearing God, and loving God. How we talked about the fact that we all believed in God, but did nothing in our day to day lives to show for it. How we talked about going to bed every night, praying for a better day ahead, but strained to recall that one time when we just thanked God for a beautiful day. Baby steps, just baby steps.
She reminded me about some of the facts of Sikhism that we shared with everyone that most never knew about, and some still don’t. About how the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the only holy scripture in the world to be written by the prophets of its dharma. About how in 1973, UNESCO declared the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji the universal scripture. About how the Atheist Society wrote to Ali Sina, creator of the Faith Freedom website, saying that this is the one religion that “makes a hell of a lot of sense”. About Bertrand Russell, the famous freethinker, and all he had to say about Sikhism was that it would be the only means to guide those who survive a third world war. She shared with me how proud they were to be born into such lineage, yet ashamed to know so little about all that they believed in.
I remembered how we did our Rehraas. We did it like a Q and A(the way we normally do at home, our family), while being seated in a circle. The Jatha was split into two groups. We called it “Conversations With God”. We were conversing, beyond words at times, getting in touch with all that was real, and everything else beyond. She told me why she never sat in front of us during the discussions. She told me why she frequently gazed at the ceiling, trying to hold her tears back. Especially when we talked about our last day on earth, not knowing when it will come. How we always take things for granted. She told me how she never expected to learn anything at a Samelan. She told me how she never expected someone like me or Sumeet to inspire her.
And lastly, she told me how what we said, is the reason she has started doing her Rehraas every single day. She tried Japji Sahib as well, but found it a little difficult to cope with. And I said, that’s okay. Stepping stones. That’s what you need. Start with what you know. I was silent within, for the 10 minutes that she spoke of everything that mattered to her in those 7 days. And here was me thinking that nothing had changed when I left the samelan grounds. No one talked about the sessions. No one had further queries on anything we discussed. Most disappeared before goodbyes. And here was one person saying thank you. And that makes all the difference. This quote comes in many different forms and words, but my personal take on it is “Change the world one life at a time, starting with mine”.
Sumeet is 23 and I’m 20. we conducted every session together. never once was there a guest speaker or an adult around. This was my first year as a Jatha Coordinator. My first year as a leader. I am someone who loves rock and roll, finds inner peace in Jaap Sahib, talks to myself in the mirror while getting dressed, loves hot showers, thinks he can sing, annoys everyone he meets, and has a wonderful family for support. a regular joe, in other words. And if I can inspire someone to change the way they wake up in the morning, then maybe that’s something to think about, if nothing else.
I remember someone, an old friend, telling me after one of the sessions, how much I had matured from what she could recall. To tell you the truth, diary, I hadn’t. I just decided to open my eyes.
And then I remembered the Ardaas we did everyday, before adjourning to the Langgar Hall for dinner.
Thank you for a beautiful day.
Thank you for the precious moments.
Thank you for all the little things I take for granted.
Thank you for giving me another day.
Guide me as I take my first step.
Pick me up, every time I fall.
Let me see the sun rise, forever and a day.
I love you.
My subconscious ardaas.
the only photograph i found of sumeet and myself. you are the older brother i never had. and for that, i am a better person. thank you for your support all the way. i will see you again. cheers