This is where my grandfather was incarcerated by the government when he arrived in America in 1913.

I finally found it.

My family and I just visited Angel Island, off San Francisco. Our first-ever trip. A pilgrimage. Historic. Sacred. Haunting, haunted. Triumphant and sad. And surprising.

My grandfather Kehar Singh arrived by steamship from India in September 1913. It was a time of violent white nationalism. Ellis Island on the east coast was a beacon of welcome for European immigrants. But Angel Island on the west coast was designed to detain, deter, and deport as many brown people as possible. So Baba Ji would have been deported — I would not be here — without the intervention of a white lawyer who, with the support of Sikhs already here, filed a writ of habeas corpus. And he was freed.

I never visited the barracks where Baba Ji was held — never knew I could — until I was invited by Grant Din, who has worked for years to keep the island’s memory.

This is the room where Baba Ji was held. I imagine a hole ripping open in time.Does he catch a glimpse of my brother and me in the 100-year-from-now future?Does he see his great-grandchildren?Does that give him energy to keep going?

Kavi spots Punjabi scrawled on the walls, and he can read it!

It says: “Tara Singh” (name) “Nine months” (how long they held him).

The walls weep, scream. But for Kavi, the walls also sing. A song of courage of his ancestors who found a way to be heard.

My father, emotional on seeing the barracks where his father was held. My brother and I stand with him. And my children run around us. As if to say: “Look, we made it. He suffered and fought, and we lived. We are the legacy of his quest, and all that bright silent pain. Listen to your grandchildren laughing and playing.”

This is Grant Din, dedicated steward of the memory of Angel Island Immigration Station. He shows us where Baba Ji took his first steps on this soil.

In a time of mind-bending atrocity, can you imagine the aftermath of the aftermath of peace? Can you hear the children in that future. If I get quiet enough, I can hear them singing.