Arvinder Kaur Goomer | Beltsville, Maryland

I am not an Indian any more. I hear that sentiment from so many people. There is anguish and hurt feelings all over the world in the Sikh community. How could this corrupt politician go free? There was evidence presented and testimonials and yet politics won again over justice. I was thirteen that year, my step into teens, but it was marred not only by the incidents in June but then the brutal killings of Sikhs. Men, women, children dragged out of their homes and burnt alive. A community targeted! While many of us were saved by neighbors, strangers and friends, many were betrayed by the same. I remember the days that followed. The community fell apart. Some rose with renewed vigor, and some faded into oblivion. The scars left us wary and angry. But time has a way of stopping for no one. Families tried to gather the pieces of a torn legacy and grappled for normalcy. The nightmares plagued us all - of men being beaten on the roads, of men yelling outside our house demanding that we be handed over to them, the images burnt in our conscience. I remember walking into my school and crying while holding hands with friends. Our school had been set on fire. We did not understand the cruelty that had prompted a group of people to target strangers, and kill them so brutally. We heard stories from friends who had to run, hide in water tanks on top of the houses. Where there was horror, there was hope. Of strangers who had stepped up and saved lives, saved women from being raped. Of neighbors who had come out and refused to let the mob take over. As I have grown, I understand the politics of those days more. I see religion being used by hungry politicians to divide and rule. I love India. If America is my home now, India will have a part of my heart always. I will not let petty politics dictate my being. I will not let them define who I am. The unjust politics, the shady leadership, the silent majority, the tongue-tied greedy politicians do not make India. I choose to take a stand because it's in my genes. I am a Kaur. My gurus' virsa that flows in my veins dictates that I show those that try to bring us down that they won't succeed. We are warriors at heart, born to lead and survive. Singhs and Kaurs, accept the challenge. Be so much more than mere survivors. Be successful. Be feared. Be a force that all must listen to. Let's vow to be united in our voices, to stand together with each other, to be a collective being. Let's educate those who can't afford it themselves. Let's support those who fight for justice. Let's build a community the world recognizes as a living force that is spiritually, financially and morally strong. _________________________ The author is a personal banker and mother of two teenage boys. She also is an activist, particularly for Sikh kids, and a budding writer. Commentaries are the opinions of the authors, and not necessarily that of Sikh News Network.

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