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Pen Your Pride


Alex

"Jaldi karo! Dher ho jaigi." I hear Anjali tell her kids in Hindi. (Hurry up. We're going to be late).

"Kahao jaarao thum?" I ask Anjali. (Where are you going?)


"Oh my god, you just scared me to death. I had no idea there was anyone behind me."

I can't help but look at Anjali in her salwar khameez; she really looks nice in Indian clothes. I actually like her in Indian clothes better than the designer clothes she normally wears to school. But, I bite my tongue and I don't mention it fearing I might be overstepping my boundaries.

"It's Vaisakhi today. I'm taking the kids to the Gurdwara. I know it's a weekday, but I hate missing this and the Gurdwara always celebrates it on the actual holiday."

"Oh my god, I completely forgot. How could I forget and I'm the one who's Sikh. Are you going now?"

"Yes, we need to go straight from school if we're going to get there on time. I didn't know you were a practicing Sikh."

"I know I don't go to the gurdwara often and it's not because I don't believe, I think it's just inertia. My parents aren't here to remind me to go and Christina doesn't believe in any religion so she doesn't find any of this important. I don't have many practicing Sikh friends in NY that go. So yeah it's just inertia. Can I tag a long? I'd love for Jasper and Leah to go to the Gurdwara and experience what I grew up with."

"Yes, sure you're welcome to join us."

"Will Raj mind?"

"Raj is traveling, but if he was here he wouldn't be joining us. He thinks it's enough that we can't even keep up with the Hindu traditions and to add more is just too much for him. But I also grew up going to the Gurdwara so at least a few times a year I make us go."

"Thanks for letting us tag along."

One hour later we pull into the gurdwara.

"Come on kids let's hurry up," I say to Jasper and Leah.

As we walk into the entrance I find the basket of scarves and I grab three and tie the first one on Jasper. Before I can tie one on Leah, Anjali comes up to Leah and gives her a chunari, a long scarf worn with salvar khameez outfits and wraps it around Leah's head and shoulders.

"I thought she might like this better than the handkerchiefs," Anjali says as my daughter Leah twirls around with her head draped.

I tie my head up and we head inside of the main hall. The hall is packed given that today is Vaisakhi. Anjali takes the girls to sit on the women's side and she sends Karan with me and Jasper to sit on the men's side.

Jasper keeps asking questions to both Karan and me about what's happening, what's the priest saying, why are the men and women sitting separately. I don't really get a chance to listen to the kirtan (sermon) because my son has so many questions.

I peak over to where Anjali is sitting, and she doesn't seem to be faring much better. The girls keep getting up and twirling around. She keeps pulling them down trying to get them to sit still. They last on the floor sitting Indian style for ninety seconds before getting up and moving around again. I watch as the chunari covering Anjali's head keeps falling and she keeps pulling it up. She smiles at the girls and finally tells them to join another group of girls and they go off in a corner to play. Once the girls run to the corner, I watch Anjali straighten her posture and use the pole near her to rest her head against it. She looks so peaceful listening to the kirtan.

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