Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 29

with it, and it’s inspiring people and making people not want to kill themselves. And if it’s actually touching the hearts, that’s what really matters. The whole idea of men being reviewed more than us doesn’t intimidate me at all as a writer. I really personally don’t care, because the thing is, I’ve been pushing so hard to get through what kind of writer I want to be that I don’t think I want to sell myself out. That’s how I feel right now. I’ll be honest, this is how I feel right now when I see other Indian writers or Sikh writers.

JGH: Color and religion is dividing us so much right now.

JKB: So much, and you know, when I see a Muslim sister or brother (I call them all my sister or brothers)… I’ve spoken to a couple of my Muslim friends and I always ask “How are you?” And they ask how I am, how we are, because we’re together. I have this new friend, and he actually went and helped Assyrian children, and he went in the camps, and I’m actually going to interview him soon.

He says we think we know what’s going on over there. He says, “I know exactly what’s going on over there, and I can’t wait to tell you... to experience what I experienced that just changed my whole heart… people can write about it, say anything. They think they know it, but you guys don’t know it.” And I believe that, because the only thing we know is what the media gives us, and you see these videos of what they’re going through, and I might not know what’s going on over there, but I feel like I know what’s going on over there.

I wrote this piece, [“Assad”], on Assyrian children even though I’m Sikh. But the thing about Sikhism, the true essence of Sikhism, is we do treat everyone as if God is… the idea of Seva. Seva is who I feel like I am when I write. Seva is everything to me. I’m going to write for everybody. So when I write about this young Assyrian boy, it’s because he’s come to me in my dreams, and I’ve been having so many dreams about this. I’m not Muslim, but the thing is, I have so much empathy for their pain. The women for their pain, the mothers that lose their children and how the children themselves have to grow up because you take it in.

I have to take it into myself, because as much as I take in what has happened in Sikhism, I take all that in, then I take in what happened with

the Hindus. I take that in because it matters to me. It’s the only way I’m

great friendships with these British arists and French artists whose name I don’t remember….its in a book over there.

We revisited the subject of her poem, “Assad.”

JKB: I want to write about it. I kept getting these dreams about these little children, and it was like a really weird spiritual awakening. I have to speak for these children and what was going on. I see my Muslim brothers and sisters and what they’re going through. It’s not like they’re the only ones going through it; we’re all going through it, because I get mistaken for Muslim all the time. It might be because my skin color is lighter and you know, you get mistaken for so many things, even my friend thought I was Muslim. It’s crazy we still get so excited when we think we are the same. We are still the same, in India even though there’s Pakistan and then there’s India and there’s that friction, I still believe in them all being the same. I saw this really great video of a Sikh man being protected by his Muslim brothers and sisters because he was being discriminated against in Pakistan, and I was just like, “Oh, my God.”

When I was getting these children coming to me, I remember this one dream. There was, I guess, a drone. I was laying in my bed, and it was early morning, early dawn was about to hit, and I see the drone fly that way and go towards my brother’s room. Then my brother and my mom and my dad are running off, out of the house, and then they just stand there. A little girl was just sitting on me, not letting me go, saying, “You need to stay, let them go. You need to stay. Let them get saved.”

I remember this was before the election and I thought, you know, I live in a country where this will never happen to me, but now it could happen to me. I remember the Oroville Dam evacuations. We didn’t leave. We couldn’t leave, because we couldn’t get out. There was the whole feeling of, this is actually happening to me.

Jassi and I talked about this time because during the evacuations, I returned from where I had been in the Bay Area to assist the organization I volunteer with, in case people needed help. She was frightened and wasn’t sure what to do. I remember letting her know that I thought she was going to be okay where she was, and that she shouldn’t panic.