Bibi-ji turned to gaze out at the street. They could become far more prosperous, she was sure of that. Opportunities lay around them like pearls on these streets. But they were visible only to people with sharp eyes.From all the books that I've read, I can say that "Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?" by Anita Rau Badami is the closest thing I've read to the quientiscencial Sikh-Canadian novel. In one very readable book, Badami has been able to weave a tale that captures the human element of defining moments in Sikh-Canadian history. Through the three female protagonists, she is able to carefully connect their lives to the Komagata Maru incident, the Partition of India, the June 1984 assault on the Harimandir Sahib (in Amritsar), the Sikh pogroms of November 1984 and the 1986 Air India bombing.
“What are you looking at, Bibi-ji?” Lalloo asked, coming around to the front with a box full of pickle jars. He lowered it carefully on the floor and stared out the window.
“What am I looking for, Lalloo, for,” Bibi-ji corrected. “I am looking for pearls.”
“I don’t see anything there, Bibi-ji,” Lalloo remarked after a few moments.
She laughed. “Neither do I, but I will. I know I will.” The war had left the whole world poorer: why had Pa-ji not thought of opening a used-clothing store instead of this Indian grocery shop? She wondered whether the shop would do better in Abbotsford or in Duncan, where there were more Sikhs than here in Vancouver. But no, she had a feeling that it was a city with a future, one in which she would be wise to invest her money and her hard work.
The hardcover version of the book is on sale now with Chapters/Indigo for only $7.99. I don't even remember how many copies of this book I've bought and given away over the last couple of years. This is definitely a book to buy, read and share for Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.