Our macho boys

Malaysians were shocked by the death of 19 year old Nhaveen, in Penang. He was sodomised and burnt on his back, suffered internal bleeding in his head and abdomen. JAGDESH SINGH reflects on the incident. The macho image that we've had ingrained in our society's DNA will need to be modified to allow us to accept those that are not born with masculinity, he argues

Opinion | Malaysia | 19 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |

Because of our appearance, more so when the jurra (tressknot) was more prevalent in generations past, mocking by other children was to be expected. Words like ‘kondek’ and ‘dut’ were thrown at us, almost to get a reaction all the time. And punches were thrown back, too. And so, because of a few examples and rumours heard at schools from all pockets of the country, these words slowly were uttered in hush manners, behind backs and far from an arm’s length. Some of us were apparently notorious with our defense mechanism. Make fun of our jurra at your peril because no discipline teacher is going to save you.

I’ve heard legendary stories in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, and Ipoh, Perak, where teenagers were chased down the road, slapped and were taught lessons about mocking our jurra. And so, like generations past with much more different circumstances, our societal traits of being violently fearless or brave were made well known to the other societies in Malaysia. The mocking never stopped, but the fear of being slapped or punched grew throughout the 80s and 90s. Perhaps I’ve been out of the schooling scene since the 90s to notice but the ferociousness of our youth, to not be messed with, never reached the peaks back then.

The other reason why we’ve not heard more mocking or bullying of our boys because of the jurra is due to the dwindling number of the jurras over the years. Thank you, Bollywood. Thank you, Modernization. Sikhs just can’t be bothered of continuing their proud tradition of the Khalsa, of keeping hair and wearing the turban.

But this macho trait of ours also heaped pressure on some of us who weren’t really comfortable being the tough and rough ones. Some of us didn’t really know how to throw punches or fight back. But we enjoyed the notoriety of our brethren most of the time anyway.

Although the jurra hasn’t gone the way of the Dodo bird yet, the macho traits of our boys and men are still prevalent as ever before. We are still at the forefront of the more masculine sports and activities. We are still considered brash and brave. So much so that being effeminate or ‘soft’ is looked down upon amongst ourselves within family circles and friends. Some are driven to change, forced to be more of a man, never to cry like a girl. God forbid if you have a young boy who is gay. Accepting these outcasts as they are is still a very rare thing to hear or talk about.

Many parents were enraged with the tragic death of a young boy who was violently beaten by bullies until he was brain dead. He was apparently a target because of being less macho and of being unlike other boys his age. Being a parent myself, the first fear we have is if our children are targets of bullies, and would they share the same fate one day as Nhaveen. And so we scramble to make sure our children don’t turn out to be potential victims of bullies, if it’s not too late yet. If our children are already targets, then we go on the offensive and seek retribution.

But what about being a parent of the violent bullies that murdered Nhaveen? What if we are parents of bullies who torment other children, who hurt other children, who physically harm other children? What if we are parents to children who are within the circle of bullies, of gangsters? How would we react then?

The perpetrators that beat Nhaveen up so bad are going to be jailed for a long time, if not life. Many were even calling for them to be hung in the gallows, even though they’re not even legal adults. Their futures are dim, no hope in sight to grow as a normal functioning part of our society, forever banished and branded as murderers. I can imagine the burning question their parents would be replaying in their minds for the past week.

“What went wrong with us bringing up our son?”

We have so much responsibilities as parents, and the question above can break even the strongest of us. One of our responsibilities to be learned from many of these unfortunate tragedies is to accept and to teach our children of acceptance. Accept that some of our children, and even some of us, are unique in our own ways. Accept that there’s nothing wrong being less macho or being different than you are as a boy or as a man.

The boys with the jurras can learn to accept that their appearances will attract attention, good or bad. But more importantly, we all need to teach our boys to accept the boys who aren’t alike as boys. The macho image that we’ve had ingrained in our society’s DNA will need to be modified to allow us to accept those that are not born with masculinity. Our kids, boys and girls, need to learn that we are all of His image, and that hurting another is akin to hurting Him.

We were thought to fight back in defense. We were also thought to protect the week and the meek. Tell our boys to never forget that.

Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother

* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.


ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com


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  1. With rising number of clean shaven (or modern Sikhs) and girls also with short/colored hair and mostly being high income professionals it may be perceived most of our high income Sikh professionals may be feeling ashamed of their long hair and tresses.
    Another trend among Sikhs which may be increasing is to drop SINGH and KAUR from their names but highlighting gotes (Gill Dhillon Bajaj etc ) and state titles.
    One could recognize one Sikh in a crowd of lakhs but today it may not be possible to recognize lakhs of Sikhs in any crowd which may have nullified the objective of Guru Gobind Singh Ji for Sikhs to be recognized in any crowd.
    Is this progress? Are calls for being proud of being Sikhs just another SLOGAN?