Once, there was a lioness named Jahia. She lived on the African savannah, with her baby cub named Jahendi. She and Jahendi were all alone, without a pride family. She knew that the wet season was coming to the savannah, and that the hunters would be coming soon. She had already seen the scouts driving across the plains.
Every night she and Jahendi slept near the bushes, and all day they walked the plains. Since they had no pride family, they had to keep moving in order to stay safe from hunters. As they lay at night under the stars, Jahia would look at her cub and pray. She loved her cub very much, and she was worried about how she would protect him without a pride.
One night as she lay with Jahendi, she heard the roar of a motor…HUNTERS! She had seen the men before, and she knew they had also seen her. She knew she had to move quickly, so that she could keep Jahendi safe. She picked him up by the scruff of his neck, and quietly began to slink away.
All of a sudden, bright lights were right in her face! She picked up Jahendi by the scruff of his neck, and began to run as fast as she could, all the while trying to guard him from the hunters. As the hunters were riding behind her, trying to catch up, she quickly found a thatch of bushes and ran into them for cover. The hunters drove on by, but she knew they would be back soon. She raised her eyes up to the sky and prayed for guidance from The Maker:
“ I am so scared and alone. You know every inch of this savannah, and you know where we will be safe. Please guide me. I cannot keep my cub safe by myself. Jahendi needs a pride family. Please give me the strength to do what I know needs to be done.”
She could hardly believe it, but she was determined to what was best for him.
She now realized she couldn’t keep the cub safe from the hunters all alone. Early that morning, she and Jahendi set out. She kept a watchful eye, always worried that the hunters were going to be waiting around every corner. They came to a thicket of trees and walked through them. As they reached the edge, she found that they were on a cliff, and she could see far and wide on the savannah. As she looked down onto the plains, she saw a pride of lions. She watched them for most of the day, feeling safe in the thicket.
She saw lion pairs and cubs, and they all looked very happy. Then, a pair caught her eye. Their names were Abrah and Bakaari. They were happy, too, but they did not have a lion cub. They watched the other lions playing with their cubs, and smiled, hoping to have one of their own someday.
“Oh, Bakaari, look at them. They are so sweet. That one over there is so playful. He will grow to become a great leader one day”, Abrah observed. Bakaari looked at his mate and the longing in her eyes. She was a great huntress, but he knew that she would be a greater mother. All the other lionesses were caring for their cubs, and relying on her to hunt when they could not. Abrah was happy to do it, but he knew she longed for cubs of her own. He was royal blood. He also wished he could have a son to watch grow into a pride leader. He decided to take a walk. While he was out on the savannah, he looked to the sky, and spoke to The Maker.
“We are so happy with our pride. We thank you for this savannah and all that it holds for us. But, if You could see fit to give us our own cub, I would be so grateful. You know that Abrah should be a mother, and I want to raise a great leader that You will be proud of. ”
Dusk was settling as Bakaari lowered his gaze and slowly walked back to his pride. He could not have known that on the cliff above him, a lone lioness and her cub were looking down at them.
Jahia watched as the pride went about its evening activities. She kept coming back to the pair that did not have their own cub. She watched the loving way that Abrah and Bakaari interacted with one another, and how much they loved the other cubs. She knew they were just the ones to take care of Jahendi. She was very sad, because she loved him very much, but she knew the only way to protect him was to give him a family.
She looked down at her little cub, and though her heart was breaking, she knew that he would be protected and loved, if he had family like that. The Maker had guided her here, and she knew that the hunters were not going to give up. She hoped that he would understand why she had to do what she was about to do. She prayed a prayer over him as he began to fall asleep. She lay next to him and waited as the pride below settled in. Besides, she wanted to soak up all the time she had left with her cub.
As night fell, she looked at Jahendi, took a deep breath, and picked him up. She slowly slunk down the side of the cliff. She approached the sleeping pride, and stopped for a moment. She sighed deeply, gave Jahendi a kiss and a tear dropped down on his head. Lifting him gently by the scruff of his neck, she took him over to Bakaari and Abrah, and laid him next to them, sleeping. She stood over them for a moment, looking at the three of them. She knew that despite her pain, this was the only chance she could give her cub at a full life.
She quietly walked away, looking back only once, her heart breaking. She had to move quickly, and she knew he would be safe with his new pride family, so she ran.
Abrah awoke suddenly during the night, feeling the cub nuzzling next to her. She woke Bakaari and they looked around the clearing, but saw nothing. Could it be that The Maker had answered their prayers for a cub? Where had he come from? The whole pride looked for days, but they were never able to find his mother. It became clear to Abrah and Bakaari that Jahendi needed a family and that The Maker had answered their prayers for a cub. They loved him immediately, and could not wait to make a life for him.
As the days went by, they became a strong family. Their cub grew and learned and filled up their days with great joy. But, Abrah always wondered about the mother lion that had sacrificed so much to give Jahendi the best life possible. Day after day, her eyes would span the horizon, because she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was someone watching them.
Finally, one day, she saw her. Jahia was not able to run before Abrah had seen her. The two lionesses locked eyes, and each of them knew. They knew that they were bonded forever because of Jahendi.
Through the years, as he grew into a strong lion leader, Abrah thought about Jahia often. She hoped that she knew how much her selfless gift had meant to Bakaari and her, and how Jahendi’s life had been forever changed
…all because of the love of a mother, with the heart of a lioness.