Kids Corner


June 1984:
I Was Kneading Bread







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, 2015

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!

7: Harsaran Singh (Indonesia), June 05, 2015, 9:06 AM.

Michele's lovely poem has transported me back by 31 years to that hot, sultry and somewhat strange first week of June. Remembering those few days, I now think that the smell of death and destruction was in the air as Hindi and Urdu service of BBC Radio -- being the only source of credible information in India -- kept giving regular updates as the events unfolded. S. Sangat Singh ji has rightly mentioned that it was Guru's Bachittar Naatak, maybe He wanted to see as to what extreme ordinary mortals drunk with power can go. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity." Thomas Paine

8: Birendra Singh Huja (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA), June 07, 2015, 3:10 AM.

A poem about a loving mother nurturing her family with loving hands and seeing them educated to be good citizens of the world. Somewhere in our nurturing we humans and the world guide our children to be good servants and guardians of this earth or turn them towards a cause and calling where to kill the fellow traveler becomes a duty and justified. I wonder how can we go so wrong when we have so much potential to do it right and guide them to be loving servants to God's creation.

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I Was Kneading Bread"

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