June 1984: I Was Kneading BreadA Poem by MICHELE GIBSON
I was kneading bread
The sun was shining
The kids at school
Sent with books,
Slapping off in flip flops
Warm moist dough rising
In the biggest bowl
A load of laundry
Folding socks, making tea
A continent away
A woman, not much older,
Was plotting military strategy
Marshalling tanks and driving troops
To set a temple in the cross-hairs
And level history
A pool filled to brimming
With the remnant of life,
Marble walkway pocked with the reverent, fallen
She unleashed the intention to exterminate a people
I watched the bread rise
Grief is palpable even of history
All humans suffer from slaughter and annihilation
The villains, the victims
And the ignorant,
On the trajectory to discover
Our capacity for evil
First published: June 4, 2010
Re-published: June 5, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), June 04, 2010, 6:54 PM.
The bread continues to be kneaded with redoubled vigour, with rising and ebbing as ordained. It is the Guru's Bachitar Naatak (Wonderful Drama) - 'dekhan aa-yo jagat tamaasha' - "I have come to witness the games humans play!" Your anguished refrain is that of a Phoenix' cry, to be reborn anew to soar and touch the sky. You take us on that trip too - Michele. We missed you and now know you were busy kneading, waiting for children to come home to your warm arms. Love you and may Waheguru bless you. Keep kneading. It is the fire in the oven that produces that lovely aroma.
2: Jugraj Singh Kahai (Gurgaon, India), June 04, 2010, 11:49 PM.
The great thing about Sikhism is that it freed us from the shackles of blind obedience to the brahmins and the maulvis. Altough nowadays there is an element of conformism to personal interpretations being attempted. If the thought is left free, a lot of the so called "fundamentalism" which really is not in the fundmentals of the religion, would be eliminated. Yes, it is agonizing to note how much suffering is being imposed in the name of God - When He does not want it. Michele has expresed it very well.
3: Kulbir Singh (Sydney, Australia), June 05, 2010, 1:24 AM.
Yes, we all join you in kneading. Keep kneading. It is the fire in the oven that produces that lovely aroma. I agree with S. Sangat Singh ji.
4: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), June 06, 2010, 6:47 PM.
The poem artistically exudes the unforgettable poignancy generated by "the intention to exterminate a people".
5: Rose Kaur (U.S.A.), June 05, 2012, 12:19 PM.
Lovely poem. Very descriptive and great imagery.
6: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), June 05, 2012, 1:21 PM.
Every time I think of the genocide against Sikhs, the only words that come to my mind are resilience and defiance. This is, amazingly, the Guru's grace - a Sikh's ability to stand up and fight (even when against all odds) and to defy the falsehood by being on the side of truth. What an amazing gift of bana and bani!