By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |
The restaurant was packed, the chatter was loud, the aroma from vegetarian pizzas wafted between laughter and smiles. I sat there in a daze, with a silly transfixed smile on my face, almost bewildered in nature.
I had just realised a life long dream of witnessing my boyhood football club play and win in Liverpool. I’ve been a Reds supporter, almost fanatically, since I can remember. But to finally watch them play, right before my eyes with thousands of other supporters, singing along anthems, was something I’ve only imagined from afar.
So, that bewildered look I had was because I felt that I was in a dream that I never wanted to wake up to. A large part of my journey was shared with a few friends I’ve made over the years. Our friendships can’t ever be typical because (bear with me here…) I’ve never met them before in my whole 4 decades and more on this planet.
Social media has had a bad rep for years now, with many from my generation being unable to see the whole point of it. Selfies and sharing your life to the rest of the world is way overrated, we say. But because of my passion, my acquaintance with a few who shared the same passion through the social media platform, blossomed to friendships, to the point where we got to know family and more.
The three smiles behind their thick beards sitting with me at the table in Mr. Singh’s, somewhere in Wolverhampton, were genuine. One had taken me in like a family member, drove for hours from his home in Cobham to Liverpool, with a passenger he’s only talked to on Twitter over the past 8 years.
The one opposite me owned the restaurant, too busy minding his clientele before we arrived at his doorstep. We hugged like old friends that grew up in the same village. We laughed and talked about the game like we’ve been doing it for years.
Not a single cent was asked, not a single expectation was said or signalled. Part of my bewilderment was because of the kindness I got from these friends. It was overwhelming. Apart from the football in common, all of them were Sikhs, proud and sincere in all words and action. Their boisterous nature, giving and caring, epitomised the image our past generations have worked hard to build. Within those few hours, a trust was built and the bond became stronger.
Our traditions of being welcoming to others, especially of the same ilk, have diluted over years. Diaspora Sikhs in many countries have had to work hard, for their families and for their future, that it diverted our attentions from this tradition of taking care of one another. Being big hearted and treating our brothers and sisters like our own was a cornerstone brick in our Punjabi and Sikhi foundations.
I can safely say, that these friends sitting with me at the table in Mr. Singh’s, even the ones that had to go back early, dispelled the thought that the caring and giving tradition we were so proud of is weaker than before. They’re living proof that it’s alive and kicking, by any means possible, even if on social media.
It was a good reminder that we’ve got a sense of duty ourselves, in our countries we call home, to be as caring and giving as these, to whoever that appears at our doorsteps for help. Give first, question later.
Thank you, my brothers. Up the Reds and Sat Sri Akal!
A tip to unite the youth (Asia Samachar, 10 Aug 2019)
Football, for many women, is life (Asia Samachar, 11 July 2019)