Sometimes I wonder where 1984 went
Sitting across the dinner table from my parents
Me stuck at the age of 1
The annihilation of my mind
I touch my long braid to make sure it’s still there
My brothers dressed as girls to pass through another village for safety

Terror rises
And I dance
Making ancient sounds with my body
Slapping my heels against bare earth
Raising my arms then spinning
I look down at dirty red brown

Cold wet relieves my aching soul
Her embrace pulls me deeper into luscious green
Falling quickly
I see the face of my par dadi
Her body a flat sacrifice
I raise my arms and enmesh mine with hers and we dance
On top of limbs
Ancestral rhythms
Faster and faster
My heart throbs
Dripping dark red
Shoulder to foot
One long line of brown in the center of the earth

Now instead of genocide by 1984
It’s genocide by pesticides
It’s me being raped by the green revolution
Death by chemicals
Brown bodies used as fertilizer
Dirty water
Beggars hands reach into the soil to sell harvest
Then with a noose
A farmer suicide

Time warps
My memory fades
Guru Arjan Dev Ji on a hot plate
Your actions seem so sweet to me

Mother Earth
Brown skin mud
No matter the beatings the killings the shootings the bullying the raping the lynching
A connection that cannot get severed

Author’s note:  Today is World Rivers Day.   Our water sources are dying, less than 2% of available water is drinkable  and this percentage continues to decrease.  Not a day goes by when I don’t think of the land in Punjab, the global environmental crisis at large and how it intersects with racism, genocide and violence against women.  On this particular day, it is impossible not to be consumed with thoughts of Punjab, the land of five rivers.  

This past June, I attended Lalkaar NY which was held on a pristine lakeside retreat.  It was there, in the company of my Jakara brothers and sisters and the bounty of nature, that I wrote and recited this poem.  Everyday, we gathered as a sangat on the lake and held diwan.  The view was breathtaking but even more breathtaking was the powerful connection I felt with nature. During ardaas, dragon flies swooned and danced above our crowns.  When five from our congregation belted out  jakaras, five geese crossed our path on the lake.  As Sikhs, the legacy for honoring the environment began with our Gurus.  A number of Sikh institutions have made it their priority: Eco-Sikh, Sach Productions/A Little Revolution, Farmer Suicides Relief in Punjab, Jakara and Jakara Juniors.  There are plenty of other organizations working towards the same means including Charity Water, the most notable when it comes to the issue of water.

The healing of Punjab rests on our collective ability to tackle environmental issues both locally and globally, on a daily basis.  
It occurred to me one night last week when I gathered with a group of women along the shore of a lake under the full moon.  Together we sang prayer songs of healing to the water, our feet planted on the earth.  We sang in the oral tradition passed down from the 13 Grandmothers, a group of Algonquin women that has now grown to hundreds.  Later, I learned to make waves of water and rainbows with my hands in eco-feminist Tai Chi class, also known as Shibashi.  Chung Hyun Kyung taught the class and remarked “Our greatest struggle in this life is to learn to live with the earth and honor it, not destroy it.”  For me, these practices are not ritual.  They are fuel for my activism, a means of staying connected, creative, and hopeful.  Hope is a decision.  It’s a decision we must make to connect to the earth everyday, whether it is taking our shoes off and sinking our feet into bare earth, being more mindful of  consumption and waste, or volunteering locally in preservation efforts.  It is a decision to support and get involved.  Whatever you decide to do make it daily, make it local, make it actionable, make it collaborative and allow it to fill your entire being.



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2 Responses to “Dharti”

  1. rusheessays says:

    Educational institutes are utilizing lots of money on different educational activities which is not worth for. Money spending on these activities is wastage of time and other activities and it must be utilized after critical thinking.

  2. Thank you for all the hardworking and efforts for a better world. A great things to do