The face in the mirror

Water is my healer. Not only does it soothe the external scalds of my body, but it also soothes my mind. And so, I spend hours in the shower. I can never have enough of water.

It is then that I can see something glitter in my mind. Unopened boxes of thoughts, like presents carefully gift-wrapped with glitter paper. Presents sent from heaven. I am like a little child, excited and eager to open these presents. “Shhhhhh!”, says a voice in my head. Then I know I must be quiet and still, though I am trembling in delight. I know that this is a special moment, for I can feel being surrounded by a blanket of silence. The sounds from outside appear distant.

Invisible hands open one of the boxes. Inside is a mirror. I pick up the mirror. A woman stares at me from the mirror. Her face is that of mine.

“Who are you?”, she asks.

“I am a woman”, I answer.

“Oh, you are a woman! Then you must be seeking love? A man’s companionship perhaps?”, she asked.

“I don’t know what I am seeking”, I say.

She laughs. A high-pitched laughter.

“Look at me carefully. Maybe you will know what you are seeking”, she says.

I look at her carefully. Suddenly, it is not my face I see. It is Fousiya’s face. Fousiya, playing with her child. I can see her worry lines; but at this moment, she is fully involved with her child. He is her world.

“Fousiya!”, I call out. But she can’t hear me.

Suddenly, I realize it is not Fousiya. It is Indu. She is painting. I can see by her side all the paintings she has made in the last one week. There are only a few days for the exhibition now. I touch the mirror, and Indu disappears.

There is somebody else in her place now. Who is it? It is Sangeetha. She is sitting in the garden all alone, trying to understand her place in the world.

I see them all one by one. All the women whose stories I have lived. The women I have met. The women I have read about. The women I have watched in films. They are all there.

And finally, I see my own face appearing again.

“So do you now know what you are seeking?”

With that, the face disappears. So does the mirror. And so do the presents.

Now I understand. Who am I? I do not have a story of my own; I live in the stories of all these women. I live- in their vulnerability, and in their strength. In their moments of security and in their insecurity. In their happiness and in their sorrows. In the fulfillment of their love and in the melancholy of their solitude. I am all these women. And so, how can I define myself as distinct from them? How can my needs be different?

I spend my life liberating these women. Each one of them. Through the stories I write. And in doing so, I liberate myself.




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