Shadows of the Mirror
I want to be a supermodel
– wrote Dheuva – in her assessment sheet. Then cancelled it out
again, when she thought of her 5ft 3 built, coffee brown colored,
and box shaped frame. Sure she had almond shaped eyes that changed
color from a dark brown to a hazel everytime they lit up, and a
smile that was dangerously contagious, but considering herself suitable
for professional modeling was pushing it too far. As she walked
back home after lectures, she had long forgotten about the cancellation
on the assessment sheet.
Blue tiles with lavender
flowers drawn on them nod in consent. The white floor meets her
step as she graces her audience with a smile. They seem to be smiling
back. Even the blue basin which stands at the other end seems to
beckon. The faucets, the soap dish, the buckets, all look upbeat,
glistening and awake. She starts the tap to shut out the noise of
the daily soap programme that’s on full volume outside. In her one
room kitchen flat, where she lives with her parents, this was her
space, her domain. It doesn’t matter much to her that the time she
gets here is brief, because in the world that she knows, a world
where gardens are grown on a one-foot window ledge, privacy has
not yet been discovered. The water on the floor begins creating
myriad patterns of curves and ‘ess-es’ with the strewn strands of
hair, and the heat from the bucket rises to create a fog between
the four walls of her stage. Today she’s a famous model, a face
that the fair-skinned envy and others desire. She flutters her eyes
at the reflection, tilts her head back and pouts for the camera.
Then she nudges her head lower till her dark brown tresses partially
cover her face. She holds that pose till the camera clicks away.
It’s a perfect shot. And then the bucket overflows.
Dheuva and her
sweetheart met on a social networking site. She casually accepted
his random friend request and before long they discovered
a comfort zone with each other. On their first date she thought
him talkative, yet quite interesting, and constantly blushed
in response to his stream of flowery compliments. It might
have been their fifth or sixth date, and Dheuva was officially
smitten. Though, she still didn’t know how many siblings he
had or even where his parents stayed, she thought these details
were petty to fuss about; she would deal with it later. He
made her feel like a queen and she was blissfully blinded
to every thing else.
flowers are more greyish today. Outside the single window,
the rain pours incessantly. Inside the blue walls her tears
taste like salt. The thunder muffles the cries of her broken
The vapor forms
clouds in front of her gaze, and she sees her lover with another
woman. She holds on to the razor, poised at a right angle
to her wrist, while they make out in the back seat of the
taxi riding right past her.
jungle with its snares is not a place for the weak willed.
Had someone told Dheuva that earlier, she might have heeded
her mother’s advice and applied for a teaching job, instead
of subjecting herself to the daily turmoil of the corporate
class. Her desk was located at the far end of the office with
no view of the world outside. She saw the sky only twice a
day; it was a bright blue on her way to work and a dark indigo
on her way back home.
Her job involved
entering information; sorting it into understandable rows
and columns - just the way errant school children are grouped
into straight lines according to their standards and classes.
Well, she was similar to a teacher in that sense. She’s not
much of a singer, yet today she sings while she dances like
Santa on Prozac. The shower faucets are her dancing partners.
They’re somewhat rigid but they support her well as she twirls
on her toes, and arches backwards. She straightens up and
clears her throat for her address to the board of directors.
She dismisses their silent questions with an air of arrogance.
She moves around the wet floor mimicking moves she has observed
from her seniors, while they made their presentations. All
the while her visiting card peeps from the pocket of her just
worn trouser, her designation – Executive – edited with a
scribbled – Senior. Her first promotion at work.
is marked with vermillion, and a string of black and gold
beads is hung around her neck. Her wedding vows were exchanged
years ago, and the essence of marriage eventually faded into
indifference, yet Dheuva was still Mrs. Bannerjee – a title
she wore with every symbol of a wedded woman. At every party,
her husband’s colleagues credited her with his success as
a reputed criminal lawyer – the woman behind the successful
man - they said. Dheuva smiled like the obedient wife that
she had been modeled into and proceeded to serve her husband’s
dinner. She was no success charm, just an insignificant homemaker.
She has left the lavender
flowers behind and now the walls are covered with abstract designs
of black and red – dizzying circles that merge into jagged edges.
The room is different but its no longer a stranger, it remains her
The bathroom is bigger
now. The glass shelves placed on either side of the full length
mirror hold their toothbrushes, his shaving kit and her hair care
potions. She starts the shower and lets the water flow through her
Tiny rivulets that find their way
into intimate nooks and corners, caressing her, calming and yet
arousing her in a way that’s seems almost forbidden. She’s not a
wife here; she’s never been a mother. She is only a woman, a creator
of images that live in her mind. She rehearses the lines of her
upcoming already houseful show – “I will not live in your shadows;
I am me, a person, a life, a living beyond an existence. I will
shine through, like the light that creates you.” The candles flicker
and the rain stops.
A garland of sandalwood
flowers adorned Mr.Bannerjee’s photograph. Dheuva emptied out his
wardrobe to the household-helps, a parting gift to them all. For
the first time in 30 years she had time to think about something
other than her husband’s needs, wants, expectations. But yet, partly
out of habit and partly due to fatigue she simply found it difficult
to focus on any thing in particular.
Reclining on her armchair
in the comforting warmth of the winter dusk, she looks at the stretch
of grass before her. The unkept, wild, free grass. She would tend
to it in her younger days, now she lacks the spirit. She is not
the woman that she could be, nor one that she wanted to be. Her
stage is no longer confined to the walls of the bathroom – the only
room that shut the world out. Her world now doubles up as the stage.
The entire house – 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living area, and a study
– all hers. She misses an audience sometimes, but then again, she
never has had a live one. As the evening sun turns a hue redder,
she sees through the neglected blades of grass, a tiny, virtually
insignificant new bud erupting from the heart of the earth. And
in that last ray of light she spots the spark that moves her towards
the dawn – Hope! Dheuva has an important meeting today. She picks
her favourite saree: guava pink with a cream border. She ties her
hair into a sophisticated bun. It has been a while since she took
the effort to dress up, and she struggles with lining her eyes with
dark kohl. She purses her lips together to smooth out the lip balm,
and reaches out for her pearl set.
She looks at herself
with approval and prepares to begin her meeting. She reaches out
towards the mirror, smiles and says – ‘Hi, I’m Dheuva. Pleased to
meet with you.’
Story Teller Jovan
Fernandes is an aspiring author who believes that there exists
a story in everything and every moment. Professionally qualified
to be a Communications expert, she is at present representing a
Mutual Fund Company as a Communications Manager. Though books are
her ultimate passion, she enjoys walking in the rain and planning
trips to off beat locations.
[email protected] http://dejavou.wordpress.com/