Quote by Valarie Kaur:

By now, we have heard the news: On October 3rd, a Sikh family was taken in broad daylight by gunpoint and killed in #Merced. Bodies were found in an orchard, including eight-month old Aroohi. We may never know the full motive behind the kidnapping and murder of this Sikh family. But what we DO know: This fresh grief is touching on all the grief the Sikh community has survived on this soil. And the only way we keep surviving it is — together.

Just 3 days after the bodies of their loved ones were discovered, the Dheri family welcomed me into their home and offered me chai. Because that is who the Dheri family is. The Aunties huddled together on the couch, the Uncles at the table, the children outside. The grief in the air was thick… and familiar.

How many families like this have I seen in the last two decades? How many vigils?

The pain of such events is familiar and ancient. It is primal. It touches something deep inside us. Growing up, we heard stories of children bricked alive, hiding under dead bodies, or slaughtered next to their mothers — from the Gurus’ time to Partition to 1984. And it all took place in the farmlands of Punjab. Farmland. Blood and bone mixed with the same soil toiled for food and life.

Baby Aroohi’s body was found in the farmlands of California, at the foot of almond trees. Half a world away, the same smell, the same nauseating grief. Except this land was supposed to be where such violence would not find our children. That was the dream that brought Punjabi farmers to California a century ago. It’s why my grandfather came. Now in the same orchards that gave me refuge as a child, I see Baby Aroohi. But if I look deeper, I see more — how many Indigenous children are buried in this same soil? How much slaughter took place in California’s heartland before our families even got here?

The struggle for safety on this land began with those who were here long, long before us.

How do we bear this, and still act? Our ancestors sang. They sang their pain and anguish. They sang of the Oneness that always is, Ik Onkar. And they found peace in remembering that separateness is an illusion. And so —

We have lost this form of you, Aroohi. We wail at the cruelty that took you. And we bless your homecoming to the earth and sea and air we breathe. So too, the man who took you will return to the Oneness that always is. And that is why — even as we rage against him or recoil from him — we bless him on his journey home.

My wish for you my beloveds, wherever you are: Let kirtan resound within you, even for a moment. Let us sing like our Gurus taught us. Let us carry this pain and stand in our love.

In memory of:
Jasleen Kaur
Jasdeep Singh
Amandeep Singh
Aroohi Kaur

The hot winds cannot touch you. You are shielded by the divine

Please consider supporting the Dheri Family, if you are able: https://www.gofundme.com/f/justice-for-the-dheri-family
#Merced #SikhFamily #JusticeForTheDheris

Here is my full offering at the vigil. It ends with my grandfather’s prayer: Tati Vao Na Lagi. May it offer you medicine, as it has me.