The Power Of Gratitude
Grazia|July 2021
In engaging with the values of Sikhism, this author found the strength to finish her first book
Jasreen Mayal Khanna
I had my baby just as the first wave of Covid hit. In the months that followed, I had a bad case of post-partum anxiety. At six weeks, my son, Azad had to have hernia surgery and go under general anesthesia. Meanwhile, my grandmother, who I’m extremely close to, suffered two paralytic strokes. My appetite shrank, and I lost 14 kgs. Breastfeeding struggles played havoc with my mental health. Exhausted and bewildered, I gave up nursing my newborn and was wrecked with immense mom guilt.

In the middle of this storm, I was asked to write a book about Sikhism, called Seva. Through the pandemic, and even before, the Sikh community had become the ‘Good Samaritans’ of the world. Always present at every disaster, ever ready to help. “Why did they do so much good,” my editor asked me, and “what could non-Sikhs, even nonreligious people, learn from their values?”

I accepted the project immediately. A proud Sikh and a journalist, the subject drew me but even more importantly throwing myself into writing a book felt like an opportunity to feel like myself again. I began to investigate my upbringing and culture, interview Sikhs, delve into our history, and dug up studies from behavioural sciences.

I’d finished a third of this manuscript when the unthinkable happened. I came home one day to find that the notebook containing all my notes had been thrown in the trash by my domestic staff. These notes had guided my process; I’d taken a course on Sikh history and scripture, read countless books, conducted many interviews, and made invaluable connections between the texts before I started writing. And now all those countless hours of hard work were gone.

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