POETRY | ‘WHERE’S HOME?’ BY SUMITPAL SINGH REHAL

Jagmohan-Singh-Sikhs-in-world-war-1-1100x868

I’ve called the same place my home for the same 27 years that I’ve been called by my name

Just as my dad called it his home since back in 66 when he came

Even though I’ve been call­ing this place home and treat it with love

For three dec­ades many nev­er called me their neigh­bour because they think they’re above

We were the only Asi­ans in this small vil­lage in Sur­rey since 1990

Around the same time that the Power Rangers were mighty

I remem­ber the teach­er was talk­ing about the Taj Mahal and I was the only brown

When she singled me out and poin­ted at me for the whole school to turn around

Then in 96 Steph­en and his mates invited me over to play Mario Kart and Don­key Kong Coun­try

3 years later they told me I’m not one of them and to go back to my own coun­try

Went to Cam­ber Sands with my fam­ily in 2001, I know it sounds tacky

But it’s all we could afford at the time even though some guy called my dad a Paki

I tried to calm my dad down as I thought the guy was just part of an ignor­ant minor­ity

But now I’m older I real­ise the that this out­cast­ing mind­set is actu­ally the major­ity

There are more people of col­our around me now that I’ve moved towards the city

The dec­ade has changed but it’s still the same men­tal­ity

I actu­ally miss the days where the racist ste­reo­types were about own­ing corner shops or eat­ing curry

Now their wear­i­ness has turned into hatred as they fear that we are ter­ror­ists and have to worry

I genu­inely felt that love would con­quer fear and the cure for hatred is to teach and show grace

But yes­ter­day a girl I’ve known for 3 years and joked about my beard and said I’ll “blow up this place”

She had a few drinks so she finally felt brave enough to say what was always on her mind

So even though she gave me love and knows that my ancest­ors fought again­st extrem­ism for man­kind

At the end of the day she doesn’t care as all she sees is one incor­rect ste­reo­type and assumes

Now this is an example of her say­ing what a whole sec­tion of soci­ety says in their liv­ing rooms

They make out that they have respect and under­stand­ing but really they see an ali­en from another galaxy

It got me think­ing about the same com­ments I’ve always received about going back to my own coun­try

Little do they real­ise that my coun­try doesn’t exist thanks to their grand­par­ents’ decisions all along

Des­pite serving for the Brit­ish Empire in two world wars and help­ing them take over Hong Kong

We were rewar­ded with mas­sacres, fam­ine and my moth­er­land of Pun­j­ab sliced in two

My grand­par­ents’ homeland lit­er­ally doesn’t exist any­more because of you

They moved out before what is now called Pakistan or India even exists as a nation

My mum’s dad nev­er actu­ally set foot in what is now in India’s dom­in­a­tion

He was born in Lahore, which is now part of an Islam­ic repub­lic thanks to what the Brit­ish then insisted

At one time it was the cap­it­al of the Sikh king­dom where Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs finally coex­is­ted

But the Brit­ish Raj invaded, divided and raped the land to for­ce us to build a new com­munity

Des­pite this, I don’t believe racism is exclus­ively given from one eth­ni­city

My dad was born in Kenya as his par­ents were recruited by the empire to work on the rail­way in East Africa

But once the empire col­lapsed the new régime was only giv­ing jobs to nat­ives and not the Pun­j­abi dia­spora

My dad sud­denly was no longer a cit­izen of the coun­try he was born in as he held a Brit­ish empire pass­port

He couldn’t get a job in India either as he had no paper­work for this new state on the oth­er side of the port

So the only coun­try he could leg­ally work with no fur­ther paper­work was the UK des­pite nev­er set­ting foot there

So how are you telling me to go back to my own coun­try when it’s this coun­try that gave me every right to be here?

I recently told someone how I feel con­flic­ted that my ancest­ors died fight­ing in wars for Bri­tain

I said that they were just pawns to be the front­line for the élite’s destruct­ive mis­sion

That guy replied that I if I dis­agree with the empire then I have no right to call myself Brit­ish and should leave Bri­tain

My first respon­se was that’s like say­ing if a Ger­man dis­agrees with the Third Reich then they have no right to be Ger­man

Both were force­ful European empires that killed mil­lions with a super­i­or object­ive

The dif­fer­ence is that one was defeated before the expan­sion got pro­ject­ive

But that guy proved my point that he doesn’t view my race as his neigh­bour

Just like his ancest­ors who watched my ancest­ors fight for the bene­fit of oth­ers

I also saw a top com­ment on BBC’s Face­book that aggrav­ated me

Someone com­men­ted about the first turbaned politi­cian Tan Dhesi

They said he shouldn’t be an MP in UK but should be an MP in India instead

That’s like say­ing that Don­ald Trump should be PM of Ger­many because of his thread

So where shall I go if I don’t belong in this land that I was born in and taught me what I know

Tell that to Jagtar Singh Johal who did what you wished and went back to India occu­pied Pun­j­ab just a few weeks ago

The Scots­man was arres­ted on the street and chucked into a van for rais­ing aware­ness about justice for Sikhs on his Face­book while in UK

Now he’s been tor­tured and tor­men­ted by Indi­an offi­cials every single day

Just like me, ‘Jag­gi’ feels he doesn’t have a homeland – the place where you tell him to go doesn’t want this Singh

I just find it highly iron­ic that the man you tell to go back home is arres­ted for doing that very thing

The home he wanted to go to doesn’t exist any­more and he has nowhere to go

Because the gov­ern­ment of the coun­try that he was born in took that land away 70 years ago.

So where’s home?

Head­er image is a paint­ing depict­ing Sikh sol­diers in World War One by Jag­mo­han Singh (The Roy­al Jesters)

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Sumit Rehal

Sumit Rehal

Sum­it is a music and art journ­al­ist from South Lon­don. His mis­sion to pro­gress cul­ture by high­light­ing tal­ent. His three vices are hip hop, trav­el­ling and sam­osas, which he has had the pleas­ure of cov­er­ing across the world.

About Sumit Rehal

Sumit Rehal
Sumit is a music and art journalist from South London. His mission to progress culture by highlighting talent. His three vices are hip hop, travelling and samosas, which he has had the pleasure of covering across the world.