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my momma is an Indian Beauty Guru

Mansi Gururani

my momma is an Indian Beauty Guru 

and because she is an Indian Beauty Guru 

(read: not American. not Angrez.) 

her beauty advice is rooted in the soil 

just like her 

skin with callouses mimicking the pebbles

singing tails of monsoon rain

that smother our mud coloured bodies

her hands have rubbed besan on my face since 

I was old enough to count her scars 

old enough to know that 

besan makes you glow 

and glowing makes a girl pretty 

there is 

haldi in her skin care 

her tongue refuses to call it turmeric, lest it 

becomes anglicised like her daughter 

momma tells me to put gulab jal on my

pimples—pink scent on pink spots, 

paint my hands and hair with henna 

make ‘em pretty make ‘em glowy 

because remember, beta 

perfection is a flaw if perfection ain’t pretty 

my momma is a collage

of magic creams that make your skin white and clean 

my momma flinches at the chemicals in her face

packs and face masks and face creams 

she paints me with her Indian soil 

calls my matted, oiled, plaited hair pretty 

says that people love a simple girl

and to her simple means a void 

but momma is an Indian Beauty Guru 

that’s why I saw her 

using the angrezi cream she had slapped away from me. 



  • Angrez: a person of English descent; white 

  • besan: gram flour; used by South Asians as a natural face pack 

  • haldi: turmeric; used by South Asians for skin care 

  • beta: an endearing term for “child”

About the Author

Mansi Gururani is an Indian poet currently residing in Oman. She writes poems inspired from music, her life, and her motherland. She wishes to make the world a better place, and believes that art and science can help her reach her goal. You can read her other poems on Instagram @mansigururani and on Wattpad @withfulloffence.

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