Bana & Saroop

The Lioness Mane

by Harbani Kaur Ahuja

Mine is thin 

and feels like silk

and it is beautiful

when a breeze sweeps it up

and blows it around my silhouette

like ribbons twirling and dancing.


My sister’s is rough and thick

and spirals in a long braid

which winds down her spine

to her knees

and swings side to side

with every step.


I still remember when mama

would brush our hair

when we were little girls

and weave long braids

and kiss us on the foreheads

and tell us we were beautiful,

that our hair was beautiful,

that it was a gift from God.


I would always be mesmerized

by how glamorous she looked

with her black hair down,

dripping water,

and wondered why

she would always tie it

into a tight bun

when it dried,


until I started doing the same

because it just looked cleaner that way.


But now I wonder

if hair was ever meant to be obedient;


why not just let it grow free and untamed?


Because I know my Guru

saw me

like a lioness

with a long wild mane

that flies as the wind carries it about

untouched by anything

but Mother Nature.


Sometimes I wear my dark mane out

and close my eyes

and feel it whirling around me

playing with the air

that carries the dust

of all my ancestors

that gave their lives

to protect this gift from God,

so that one day

I could be a princess,

with my dark long hair

as my crown.


And at those times

I can feel

the lioness

that hides

deep inside my soul


and I can’t help but wish I were stronger.

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