My son, Sidak Singh, is a joyful boy who claps his hands and smiles in anticipation of the grocery store, swim lessons or picking up his older sister at preschool. He has beautiful latte skin, chestnut eyes and short but growing hair.
In a year, his hair will be long enough to tie into a topknot or jura. We will neatly secure his jura on the crown of his head and cover it with a mini-turban or patka. As he grows older, we will mark Sidak's coming of age with a turban-tying ceremony signifying his passage into adulthood. His turban will become a part of him, and as a member of the Sikh community, this crown will shape him not only in spirit, but also in perspective. If I do my job right, Sidak will know the honor of revering this life with an open mind and heart.
In a post 9/11 world, Sidak's turban is not a crown. It signals terrorism. On the playground, Sidak runs the risk of becoming not a boy but the son of a towel-head, a terrorist, and a threat.
For this I pray that when you meet my son and share a mutual kindness, you attribute this affirming exchange to his turban and heritage.
I pray that when the image of my son lingers, you see a boy who loves sprinting across the playground, a boy who slurps vanilla ice cream off an old-fashioned cone, and giggles with his sister at night before they lay to sleep.