‘We avoid speaking about things that matter, and love blabbering about that do not. Sitting here, staring at nothing, would do no good; neither to you, nor to anybody else; all it will do is deteriorate the situation out there. Lesser voices, lesser support for the right thing render the right to be wrong. I hope you know that, do you?’
She asked someone; but whom? Nobody was there in the room. She was there all alone – sitting on the edge of a mat, in a long white dress, with hairs neatly parted right at the center, staring right in front of her. She was alone in the room, and, yet, she was not.
The mirror was reflecting another ‘she’. The another ‘she’ in the mirror was in a dress not so white, her not parted hairs wildly disheveled, her eyes shut. The should-be-reflection was nowhere to be seen. And the visible reflection was far from an illusion; it stayed still, calm, without moving a limb even an inch. Was she even breathing? It was hard to tell.
Observing the reflection in the mirror for a while, she started to imitate it.
It started with the hair. Messing her hair wasn’t a tough task. In lesser than a minute, there was no sign of a neat center partition in her hair. Missing twigs made her realize that the replication was still incomplete. But she wasn’t in a forest or an area where twigs could be found. What could she do? What could she do?
Her gaze fell on the mat beneath her. It anyway was worn-out, so she pulled few plastic strands from the already soiled and crumbled corners, and fixed them in her hairs.
Next was the dress. On a closer look, she could make out the ripped parts of the dress. Some hard and quick rips here, and some there, her torn dress started reflecting the one worn by another ‘she’ in the mirror.
But what color was it? It was hard to decipher because there wasn’t just one. Blotches of maroon at places, reddish at some, dirty brown at others on the base of white. There were bruises too; bluish, purple. “Was the another ‘she’ hurt?” she wondered. “Are you hurt?” She murmured in a voice only loud enough to reach to the another ‘she’. No answer. Was there a nod? She felt she saw the another ‘she’ moving, but wasn’t sure, for the movement was too minute to notice.
But how could she hurt herself? Someone must have hurt the another ‘she’, but there was nobody to hurt her in that small, semi-dark, empty room with only a mat and mirror to accompany her.
All she could think of now was shutting her eyes, the last thing to be replicated, and think, think hard and then harder; if it doesn’t help, delve deeper and remind herself of the miserable days in Gehenna.
Days when light never entered and dark never left. Days when fresh air was forbidden, and rotten breaths floated around. Days when her skin felt not her own and filthy skins touched hers. Days when her tears drained off her eyes, and drools of wolves encroached her body. Days when her cries died, and laughter of monsters prevailed.
But then it happened; from nowhere, it happened. A ray of light entered from a corner, cutting off the dark. Darkness shrieked, tried to retain itself. It trotted and fumbled around trying to find a cover, but no cover could shield it. A single ray of light, of hope, of a beginning, of a change was enough to end an era of darkness, of grief, of cruelty.
Only a minute must have passed but it felt like an eternity when she opened her eyes. She was still on the mat, the room was still semi-dark, and mirror was still in front of her.
She wanted to talk to the another ‘she’. But the another ‘she’ was gone, vanished. She turned around to see if the another ‘she’ had hidden herself somewhere. There was not a piece of furniture to hide behind. All to be seen was darkness, and heard was a screaming silence. A silence that she had heard in those days.
She turned back to face the mirror. The another ‘she’ had returned. In the same reposed position. She wanted to ask what happened with her, she wanted to comfort her, for she could see herself in her. And just then the another ‘she’ moved, her neck craned upwards and half of her face revealed itself beneath her wild hairs. Was she shocked, or was it a scared look? Little did it matter anyway. For what she saw was beyond her comprehension. She saw a face similar to hers.
I don’t understand. How does she have the same face as I?
Turning her face away from the mirror, she looked down. Her, once white, dress had changed to maroon and red and brown, her arms and fingers and legs and neck and face hurt. Another glance at the mirror revealed it never was the another ‘she’; it, all this time, was she. She raised her right arm and, this time, another ‘she’ did the same. She moved her arm down and found the another ‘she’ doing the same.
‘Am I hurt?’ A recurring thought kept on hitting her when a screeching sound of a door interrupted her rumination. Huge silhouettes appeared, and everything turned pitch-dark.