Kids Corner

Poetry

Waris

A Poem by PARVINDER MEHTA

 

 

 

 

 

Their eyes filled with suspicion

screening for potential danger

fail to see his humanity. Their gaze

of mistrust denies him approval, and

insists on random searches

again and again. He hopes they will

learn about him, understand him.

Someday they will …



Some kind eyes may politely

plead for additional scrutiny

yet many others glaringly intimidate

and dehumanize him. Their doubts for

his traveling to routine destinations

on vacations, on journeys to living his life

cast aspersions on his refusal to assimilate.

His bright turban, turns their cautionary

gaze, impelling them to demand

adherence. They ask him to take off

his turban at the fancy airports

celebrating diversity with humongous,

exotic frames of ethnic faces and

concrete smiles plastered and painted

on walls. “Only a routine check-up, Sir!”

smirkingly mutters one of them. He smiles

calmly yet refuses the exhibition demanded.

“Not here, never!” He asks for other ways to

alleviate their doubts. “Why do they come here

caring so much about the head nonsense?”

they mutter. He follows them with a calm fury

to another panopticon of surveillance.

“They do not understand,” he thinks,

patting down his own turban with

affection and respect, holding out

his hands to their suspicious scrutiny

and mechanized screening.

Someday they will…



He collects his belongings,

wondering about such unbelonging.

They do not understand

those traditions and histories,

those memories and chronicles

of sacrifices and affirmation,

brave resistance and resilience,

against conversion and assimilation.

Someday, he hopes, they will learn

to tolerate turbans, the crowns of

commitment to defend and stand tall.



Till then he must educate the errors,

tell them his reasons. Someday they will

accept his desire to follow, to cherish

this tradition of belonging and promise.

Someday they will…



February 10, 2016 ... the day after Waris Singh Ahluwalia, a first-class Sikh-American passenger, was refused a seat on an AeroMexico flight from Mexico to New York ... because he refused to remove his turban. Earlier, he had been cleared by all of the airport's screening staff and equipment. However, after outrage was heard from the world over and AeroMexico apologized, Waris refused to board their next flight until and unless they would agree to educate and train their staff on how to properly and respectfully deal with passengers wearing their respective articles of faith.
 

Conversation about this article

1: Harmandar Singh (London, United Kingdom), February 10, 2016, 5:51 AM.

CNN's latest report says that AeroMexico has finally, after two days, given in to Waris' demand and has promised to train its staff in diversity, including how to be respectful of the Sikh turban and the articles of faith of all religions. Waris will be flying back to New York today on the collective back of a slightly more enlightened Mexican staff. Waris, you are such a great ambassador for decency and humanity! Thank you for your courage and selflessness.

2: iqbal Singh Bhan (Canton, Michigan, USA), February 24, 2016, 8:56 PM.

Thanks, dear Parvinder, for your Poem to educate people about who we are and why we wear turban.

3: Manjeet Singh (Noida, India), February 29, 2016, 11:06 AM.

Waris and this poem are both powerful.

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