Harnek Singh torso and head were put back together with hundreds of stitches – at least 150 in his head alone – after an attack in his driveway on December 23. Picture supplied
Harnek Singh locked the doors to his ute and mentally said goodbye to his family as a group of armed figures who rammed him in his Auckland driveway approached under darkness.
All the 53-year-old man remembers of the December 23 incident – which happened at 10.20pm – is honking the horn to his Toyota Hilux as his windows were broken.
He was later found by a Radio Virsa colleague hunched in the driver’s seat on Glenross Drive, surrounded by smashed glass in a “shower of blood”.
Speaking last week in his Wattle Downs living room wearing only shorts, Singh had two large casts covering from the tips of his fingers up to his elbows.
Dozens of fresh jagged scars and staple holes extend up his right arm, across his shoulders, and neck up to the top of his head.
“The doctors said I’m OK now so they can send me home. But when we talked to police they were like ‘be careful’. I said define that? What should we do?,” Singh told the Herald.
“Recovery wise it’s OK, I’m very happy. But psychologically, whenever you remember [the attack] …
“My family and relatives are very scared. My wife she’s got courage. Living with me the last 20 years, she understands me, she knows what my commitments are. But I can see internally. Last night, nearly 1.5 hours she was telling me the story, revising the story [of his attack].”
On January 21, six men were charged with attempted murder over the attack.
Singh’s calm reserve and amazing good humour belie the three weeks in hospital he spent, half of that in intensive care involving numerous surgeries.
During his stay in Middlemore Hospital the door to his room was constantly guarded by security.
His torso and head were put back together with hundreds of stitches – at least 150 in his head alone. His right ear was almost cut off.
He will still have to wait until his arm casts come off to fully determine whether he has possible nerve damage in his hands.
But Singh says he has passed all the memory tests he was given at hospital and his mind is well.
Sitting among four of his friends and colleagues in his home the owner of a structural engineering business is cheerful and upbeat.
His colleague Sukhminder Singh remarks the speed of his recovery “inspires” him and was a subject commented on by doctors and nurses in hospital.
“He’s [Harnek] the one who always suffered for the rest of us,” Sukhminder said.
Singh laughs that during the first days of his hospital stay in between 12-hour surgery sessions, he managed to regain consciousness to remind a friend to cancel an upcoming holiday he had booked.
The Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple in Papatoetoe which Singh is the lead convenor has been closed until further notice.
So too, the Radio Virsa station which Singh has hosted since 2013 has been temporarily taken off the air.
He was returning from a broadcast on December 23, when he was attacked.
His colleague at Radio Versa and friend Balwinder Singh, 42, was driving past on the way home too when he saw Harnek’s car in the driveway.
“When I saw the car there I just stopped to say hello like I would normally do. At that time nobody was there. When I approached his car, that’s when I realised it was destroyed,” Balwinder Singh said.
“When I saw him that’s when everything made sense, his turban was on the ground, the glass was shattered and the lady in the house next door was shouting, telling me to step away from car.
“It was like a person getting out of the shower and soaked with blood.”
Singh says it is not self preservation that occupies his thoughts going forward, but his 10-year-old son.
“Myself is not the issue. When they attacked I programmed myself that I’m gone,” Sing says.
“When they first hit, I gave a message to my brain that I’m gone. I thought I’m finished now.
“But still when you think about your son, his innocence, his future. This is my decision, I’m OK. But my responsibility towards them [family]. He’s got a future, he wants to live his life.”
Yet for the meantime, there is joy in Singh household as they await the trial for their father and husband’s attack.
“Last week I was talking to my wife and her nephew saying that ‘look, they attacked us, I had so many cuts, I stayed so long in hospital – weaker and psychologically affected. But we are still sitting in a room eating pizza,” he said.
“Even though this much has happened, we are positive. That’s why I recovered so fast. If you are complaining, whinging and moaning all the time then half of your energy is complaining.”