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By Harjit Singh Lakhan

My friend Gurnam Singh in Birmingham told me his story at a kids camp July 2002. He used to be a drug pusher and addict on the streets of Manchester. He ran away from home aged 13 and lived with thieves and druggies. He kidnapped, raped and other unspeakable things in order to get money for drugs. Only his mother believed in him, that he was better than that. She used to see him once a month and go to gurdwara do shoe seva with a handkerchief and wipe that on his forehead while

he was knocked out drunk or drugged out. One he even put a knife to her throat because she wouldn't give him money for drugs. One day she told him there's a better drug, a new wonder drug that he needs to cry.

His eyes lit up at the thought of how much money he would make. Then he asked her what this drug was. She said it was "Khandeh batta da Amrit". He looked away disappointed and ignored her.

She insisted he try it and he would never go back to his old drugs. To appease her he said well I'll only take it if I can have it today. Amazed that he'd even considered it, she phoned every gurdwara and jatha but there where no amrit sanchars anywhere. Then she said I'll take you to India, he said get the tickets right now otherwise its off. By guru's kirpa she didnt need the tickets because she called the Singhs up in South Shields, they said "A singh wants to take amrit ...we'll come and get him!"

When she told Gurnaam they were coming to get him, he started thinking twice about it and said no no I'll go up by myself. She knew he wouldn't so sent her younger son, the one with the a joora to go with him on the train. On the train to his amrit ceremony, he was smoking drugs with one hand and drinking the strongest cans of alcohol. The other hand was on the mobile to his girlfriend who was shouting at him for not coming home. He had tatoos all over his arms, earings and piercings and torn jeans and clothes. worst of all he stunk of alcohol and drugs.

When they got off the train a short stocky singh with a long beard greeted them. He said 'So you're here to take amrit' and he hugged the younger brother. The kid shook his head and said 'no its not me' and pointed to his brother. The Singh was gobsmacked but smiled and hugged Gurnam singh close to his chest. Gurnam said that changed his life. He said no-one had ever loved him, his girlfriend was just a purely <admin-profanity filter activated> relationship. He felt so guilty that being so filthy he had made the Singh dirty.

They took him to the Gurdwara and explained a few things about amrit and told him to think about it for 24 hrs then decide if he really wanted it. They gave him a shower, a kurtha pyjama and took him for a walk around the park explaining things like he wont be able to have drugs or alcohol again, and he'd have to marry his girlfriend and ask her to have amrit as well so they could live a gursikh life. He agreed to the first part and said he was ready to dump his grilfriend- there was no pyare there.

In the early hours the Singhs started the amritvela naam japna, he heard it in his room and it enticed him , he sat and listened and cried his eyes out. They took him for another walk around the park and helped him think about what was happening. He said he was so happy because for the last 12 hours he hadn't touched drugs or alcohol and that was a true miracle for him. As he was so addicted he couldn't even go a few minutes without. He was so addicted he only weighed 6

stone and looked a walking skeleton. He had blood in his <admin-profanity filter activated> and was on the verge of self-destructing.

In the morning the Singhs served him with so much pyare, offereing him lots of cereals, and toast, making his breakfast , taking his dishes. He was overwhelemed. In his sangat of thieves and druggies the only code was each man for himself, TAKE TAKE TAKE , if you didn't grab it by force then you wouldn't get it. He was blown away by the amount of love the Singhs gave. The Singhs did the amrit sinchar just for him.

For two whole days he didn't know where his soul was - blissed out. One of the Singhs took a whole week off work and taught him to read and pronounce Japji sahib. Amazing when you conmsider he didn't even know how to read or write english as he had dropped out of school when he about 7.

He called home and told his mum he wouldnt be coming home yet as he loved the singhs, she was ecstatic 'Dont worry son you stay there as long as you want'.

The following week he went on a tour of the UK gurdwara with his cousin and brother (1996). They met me in Southall gurdwara, doing seva in the langar. I remember greeting them and talking to them. I didn't know any of his history , I just saw a Gursikh wearing bana like me. They said they need some shabad kirtan gutka as it was hard to get them up north, so I took them home and we did kirtan in my liitle room and I gave them some english gutka I had.

They didnt tell me all of the above. I only found out 6 years later a few weeks ago when I met Gurnam Singh again at a camp in Birmingham. I didnt realise the effect I also had on him. He said 'You didn't know me, a total stranger, yet you too gave us so mmuch pyare I was blown away' . Then after he left me he went to Leicester. The missed the train and a Singh at the station offered for them to stay with him the night. He was in chardhikalla.

When they got to his house they saw he had an 18 year old son who was completely wheelchair bound unable to do anything for himself. The Singhs had a 24 by 7 rota to look after the son day in day out 365 days a year. When he asked the Singh arent you upset with God for doing this to you? The Singh said, It all good , whatever good does is good,

I'm happy, very happy." Once again Gurnaam singh was blown away with the Gursikh.

The Singhs arranged his marriage, his wife knew of his past, but didn't mind. Many hard times came and he craved the drugs again, especially as he knew who to get them from. Once he came home with a bag full of cocaine and stared at it on his kitchen table. He was that close to going back to his old ways. There and then he did ardas guru ji I need to move away from Manchester, from all this bad sangat. He had tried selling his house before but it was a rundown area and no

one was interested. Yet the next day a pakistani man knocked on his door and offered them more than market values for their house!

They moved to Birmingham for sangat. Even their some more Singhs, got him a house and a job. He paid them back the deposit and says he has sukhmani sahib programme one a month. Even when they were driving around looking for a house they saw a for sale sign and one chardhi-kalla singh said to Gurnaam, that's going to be your house. Next time they went by it had a sold sign, Gurnam was disappointed. But the chardhikalla singh said , no that's going to be your house. So

the Singhs got together and did chaupee sahib the paat and amazingly the house came back on the market!

He still gets cravings, but can only control it with sangat. He says he now does talks to kids about the evils of drugs and tells them what happened to him.

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