Kurbani kaur peered into the mirror, a tear slid down her cheek, smudging the make-up a bit in the corner of her eye. Another threatened to follow. She blinked it back and swallowed hard. She mixed up a little more of the bleaching powder into the bleaching creme, 'extra strength for dark or heavy hair' it read on the package.
It burned as she applied it over her lip and just under her chin.
She fought the urge to pick up the tweezers and shape her brows.
She felt like she was turning into some sort of hideous monster.
Carefully she walked to the edge of her bed, and picked up the translation of Anand Sahib... She had a 10-15 minute wait for the bleach to do it's work.
ਅਨੰਦੁ ਭਇਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਏ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
anand bhe-eiaa meree maa-e satguroo mai paa-i-aa
I am in ecstasy o my mother, for i have found my True Guru.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਤ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਹਜ ਸੇਤੀ ਮਨਿ ਵਜੀਆ ਵਾਧਾਈਆ ॥
satgur ta paa-i-aa sahj saytee man vajee-aa vaaDhaa-ee-aa.
I have found the True Guru with such natural ease, and my mind resound with the Music of Divine bliss.
ਰਾਗ ਰਤਨ ਪਰਵਾਰ ਪਰੀਆ ਸਬਦ ਗਾਵਣ ਆਈਆ ॥
raag ratan parvaar paree-aa shabad gaavan aa-ee-aa.
The jeweled melodies and celestial harmonies have come to sing the Shabad, the Word of God.
ਸਬਦੋ ਤ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਹਰੀ ਕੇਰਾ ਮਨਿ ਜਿਨੀ ਵਸਾਇਆ ॥
shabdo ta gaavhu haree keraa man jinee vasaa-i-aa.
The Lord dwells within the minds of those who sing the Shabad.
ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਹੋਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੧॥
kehai naanak anand ho-aa satguroo mai paa-i-aa. ||1||
Says Nanak, I am in bliss, for I have found my True Guru. ||1||
She fell back on the bed in transports of ecstatic bliss, was there anything more beautiful. She lay there for many minutes washed in waves of inner dimension, until she heard the alarm on her watch sound.
It brought her back to the present.
As she washed the bleach away, a pale, light, burned stubble remained. It felt sharp and dry and looked unnatural against the dark of her brows and hair. She sighed deeply.
It had taken so many years for her to be able to find the courage to receive Amrit. When ever she would hear that Amrit was to be given, she would head away from the camp, or Gurdwara.
She didn't want to make a commitment she couldn't keep. Still she tied a white turban, when ever she went to the Gurdwara dressed in her tight white knit dresses and leggings. One day as she told herself how devoted she was to Guru and how much love she had, a voice replied, "Yes devoted, but not enough to take Amrit, or learn to read Nitnem (daily prayers), or get up early in the morning for saaDhnah."
Finally, a Singh asked her point blank at camp one night while she was tucking in her sons. Have you been initiated? When she said "No", it was as though no one would believe her. When she returned home, she went to her Siri Guru Granth Sahib, English, Romanization and Gurmukhi all in one. She wept and agonized. Should she take Amrit. Was she worthy? Could she keep the commitments? At the next camp, a Singh came to her and asked if her younger son could take Amrit, the older son asked if he could too. She asked a lot of questions about the commitments.
She was given a set of Kachhere (specially tailored undergarments, which is one of the five articles of faith) and told to take a bath and wash her hair. She put on the Kachhera. It felt so strange, she was overwhelmed. She felt like weeping, she lay down on her bedroll, and closed her eyes and went to sleep. She wasn't ready; the children’s father came late from work. During the ceremony, while they were waiting sitting on the stage with other campers singing Keertan, the youngest came running out from a trip to the bathroom, his face was wet and his eyes glowing. "They put water in my eyes," he whispered excitedly. And then ran back to where the others were taking Amrit.
To be continued...