On Saturday I was at work and sitting at the cashier desk. One of the members of staff came to the cashier till and asked me "HOW LONG IS YOUR HAIR?" So I said, "I think it comes up to here". I explained that before I used to cut my hair and used to be a NON-PRACTICING Sikh and now I am a PRACTICING Sikh. The Gora repeated what I said, "So you're saying before you were a non-practicing Sikh and had cut hair? Right? And now you are wearing a turban and have long hair and are a practicing Sikh?" I said, "Yes". Just as I said that I hear a loud voice "You are either A SIKH or NOT a Sikh - there is NO SUCH THING as practicing Sikh or non-practicing Sikh." I was SHOCKED. I turned around (to where the customer stands to be served) and saw a middle-aged Gora standing there. He was dressed in worn work overalls and wearing a baseball cap.
He said to me, "What are you saying mate? Either you are a Sikh - keep the hair, wear the turban and follow the Path, or you are not a Sikh. There is NO INBETWEEN. A SIKH IS A SIKH." I felt overwhelmed and was gob smacked like I have seen a GHOST! The small town I live there are about 65 Panjabi families out of which only about 5 or so elderly people are Keshdhari. I was taken aback about how he knew about Sikhi. The customer's interruption to the conversation made my mind keep on contemplating on the words of Guru Gobind Singh jee in Bhai Desa Singh jee's Rehitnaamaa:
ਰਹਿਣੀ ਰਹੈ ਸੋਈ ਸਿਖ ਮੇਰਾ ॥ ਉਹ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਮੈ ਉਸ ਕਾ ਚੇਰਾ ॥
rehiNee rehai soee sikh meraa.
ouh saahib mai us kaa cheeraa.
One who lives Rehit (the way of life) is my Sikh.
That person is my Master and I am his disciple.
ਰਹਿਤ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਨਿਹ ਸਿਖ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥ ਰਹਿਤ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਦਰ ਚੋਟਾਂ ਖਾਵੈ ॥
rehit binaa(n) neh sikh kahaavai.
rehit binaa(n) dar chottaa(n) khaavai.
Without Rehit (the way of life) one cannot be called a Sikh.
Without Rehit (the way of life) one will struggle (in life).
(Rehitnaama - Bhai Desa Singh jee)
I felt very shameful that I had to be reminded by a random customer that a Sikh is one who walks the walk, talks the talk and is someone who is striving to live Sikhi. I accepted the man's statement and told him that he was right. The customer stood there talking to me for about HALF AN HOUR. I asked him how he knew about Singhs and he said, "If you have a thirst for knowledge then you will find out some how." The poor man was so caught up in the conversation that he forgot his credit card in the shop! (I tried going after him but couldn't see him the dark!).
Afterwards the young boy working with me said, "Manvir, Manvir... I can show off what I know about Sikhism... Let me tell you what you are wearing on your hands." I said, "Go for it." He said, "You are wearing a GURDWARA on your hands." I couldn't stop but laugh! lol. I explained that the Gurdwara is a building, bit like a place of worship and that I was wearing a KaRaa. He said, "O Gosh! Yeah, yeah... I knew that" (with an embarrassed face) :)
In the evening I was going to go to Southall but had a problem with the car. The Road Recovery people had to be phoned and within 20 or 30 minutes a young man arrived with his recovery truck. Although it was cold and frustrating, but seeing this man was very inspirational. He was someone who exemplifies KIRAT KAMAAYEE ( honest livelihood).
The man was GENUINELY trying to help us rather than thinking of money. The way he was working reflected the respect he had for the customer. I was very impressed by his work attitude, genuine concern and honest nature. The man told us that he lived with his wife, children and his DISABLED FATHER. Him and his wife care for their father. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Gora living with his parents and selflessly caring for his disabled parent rather than choose the option of leaving his disabled parent in nursing care as one would generally perceive the attitude of wider society to be. He said his wife always has food ready on the table and that his children go to a Church School and that he tries his best to live an honest and hardworking life. Out of a bad situation Vaheguru caused us to meet a GOOD SOUL.