Growing up as a British Sikh

The Gurdwara elders won’t teach you about Sikhi, because you don’t speak Punjabi. They haven’t taught you Punjabi, or learned English for themselves, nor do they know much about Sikhi themselves, but it’s still your fault.

The other British Indians aren’t interested in you because you’re not cut-haired and clean shaven. They believe you must be from a very strict family and incapable of standing up to your parents, since you’re wearing a turban. Meanwhile, Europeans just don’t see you as one of them at all.

If you cut your beard, you are criticised for “selling out” and breaching Hukam. If you let it grow, you are criticised for being a “militant” or Khalistani. It seems the only way to satisfy sangat is to tie your beard up in a thaati and use Fixo.

All anyone cares about is what you’re earning and what food you’re eating.

They all want to see you doing well, but not too well.

They’re looking to expose the smokers, but they encourage the drinkers.

They expose the unmarried couple holding hands in the high street, but protect the violently abusive husbands.

They attribute all of their own shortcomings to the work of the RSS.

They harbour racist views, criticise Gurbani yet follow around men who call themselves “saints”.

They are lost.