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Dear Kaur:- A Letter From Balpreet Kaur

Aug 28, 2012
(Takes Few Minutes To Read)

A year ago, when I began to realize the depth of love Guru Sahib had to offer, I wrote to an older sister. I was muddled as to why people didn’t accept me, hurt because I had loved everyone around me and now they made fun of me, sad because I felt like Guru would never embrace me.

She responded, “keep going; this is the way of life – our struggles and victories will become inspirations for another Kaur on the same path, and the cycle will continue.”

And, today, her words ring true: the cycle has continued. And, I hope it never ends.

My story is long and tedious.

My journey as a Kaur begins with a camp, a gurmat camp in Cleveland. Never previously exposed to gurmat, I was hesitant to leave my comfort-zone and experience Sikhi. But, there I saw Gursikh Kaurs, adorning themselves with dastaars and keeping their hair. They were filled with love and acceptance of others and their Guru. I could see their eyes burning with pyaar and humility — I felt at peace. There, I knew that I wanted to be like them. By mere coincidence, a Kaur tied my first dastaar and I fell in love. I had found that resting place that I was looking for in a place I never would have guessed. The seeds of love had been planted, but it took two years for them to grow out of the soil and into the open.

The journey was a long one: filled with thinly veiled insults, waterfall of tears, thorns upon thorns of pain, and anguish at the world. But, within those moments of sadness, there were gems of love to be found. Keertan, glimpses of sangat, the steady discipline of nitneym had kept going. Eight months after camp, I had started wearing my kakaars most of the time. But, my rehit was lacking. I still removed my hair, first out of necessity. Then, out of helplessness and fear. Not because of my own battles, but my family’s struggle as well. I had forgotten that they too were traveling on a journey with me. My mom had certain expectations of me as her only daughter: beautiful, girly-girl who loved to decorate herself, wear the best suits, and of course, mother-daughter bonding time over makeup and hair styles. She had envisioned a girl who people would see and say ‘look, she’s so beautiful’. And, to an extent, I had destroyed that dream of hers. Instead, I adopted a dastaar, discarded my capris, and banished my collection of earrings.

As this dilemma continued, Guru ji sent a reminder my way. We had travelled to San Francisco the summer before college. Sitting in the Fresno gurdwara, I remember looking around, seeing bibian with dastaars all around me. Never before had I seen so many Kaurs! Then, during divan a Kaur walked in, whose name I still don’t know, but whose memory I have not forgotten: yellow suit, white cardigan, tan skin, and a full beard. I watched her matha-tek and sit down, smiling at the little kid next to her. I looked back to my mom, and noticed that she had seen her too; my mom chose to cringe slightly. I chose to look back and just watch her from afar. I was in awe of her, not because she was different, but because I felt her pyaar for Guru and Hukam. I didn’t see her beard or physical beauty – to me, she was simply beautiful for wearing Guru’s baanaa. I saw her love. I saw her acceptance and contentment with who she was. In her, I saw Guru Sahib and the power of Gurmat.

California passed by, and I found myself on the steps of college – Ohio State University, home to 60,000 Buckeyes, only a handful of Sikhs, and one dastaar-vaali bibi — me. Back home, the sangat had seen me grow and were supportive; they knew who I was. Here, I was a stranger and I was confronted with another reality: Balpreet Kaur was the ‘turbaned girl with a moustache and unibrow’. All I got were stares, and awkward glances. Only a few people were courageous enough to come up and talk to me. Even then, I felt like a coward, hiding away in my room, looking over my shoulder to see if the boy that just passed was giggling at me or someone else. But, Guru Sahib made me walk on, constantly reminding me that if the Sahibzaadey could stand up to an army of 40,000, why can’t I? What’s stopping me from being confident in who I am? That answer came in the form of my interfaith work; I was stopping myself from being confident. I was placing my self-respect at the mercy of others instead of taking control of it myself.

It was time to take control. I decided to give my head, body, soul and life to Guru Sahib – I made the promise to walk this path with Shabad as my support, and Gurmat as my guide. Whether that promise is kept, that is Hukam. But, that day, something changed.

The image in the mirror started to change; instead of seeing ugly, I saw Mata Sahib Kaur’s daughter – the hair that I had found accursed before were jewels, and the discipline that seemed like a mountain became a mole hill. Then, the stares and the looks started to become clear – they weren’t out of hatred or ill-intentions. In those wandering eyes, I began to see flashes of ignorance and genuine curiosity; who wouldn’t stare at a shiny car or a unique flower?

The shabad, Teree Bhagat Naa Chhodo, Bhaavai Lok Hasae, rang true – truer than anything else I had heard. It gave me determination — the determination to keep going, to fall down, get up and keep walking in hopes of one day reaching my destination. Coupled with love for our Creator, so much so that I don’t want to let go of Vaahiguru’s hand, even in my wildest dreams – it awoke me.

But, this girl is still stumbling her way through the mud, just like the rest of her brothers and sisters. Sometimes, I still wonder ‘why me?’ and ponder ‘it is easier to just fit in’ but then, I realize how much love I feel when I’m singing keertan or at the gurdwara, or just walking around campus, watching the leaves fall to the ground – falling wherever the wind takes them; those moments are priceless compared to my momentary doubts and insecurities.

So, dearest Kaur: keep going, keep trying your best, and Guru Sahib will take care of the rest. This discipline is hard – no wonder Gurbaanee says its sharper than a sword and thinner than a hair. But, the Guru is amazing – with GurShabad as our support, we can all realize that this path is easier than breathing – it is about Love. By loving Akal Purakh through Gurmat, we lose ourselves in it and there is no difference between our soul and the Creator. Wherever you look, you will see your Beloved – even beyond this mask we have been given.

Love so much that it resonates with every single hair, every single breath, in every single moment, with every single action.

Your sister,

Balpreet Kaur kaurhug