Of Mirrors, Beds & Curtains


I twisted my head to the right as I observed the 9 year old boy in front of me do the same. But he seemed to do it towards his left. I remembered what we had learned in science class yesterday- our images in the mirror display left and right in reverse to our relative movements. The mirror was rectangular in shape, the long length ensuring the mirror’s longevity with my growing age. This made we wonder, why doesn’t the mirror perceive top and bottom in the reverse directions? Why doesn’t my reflection get smaller as my body gets bigger? I noted that down as a possible question I can ask the teacher tomorrow. In the mirror, I could see two other people behind me. They were discussing whether to buy furniture made of teak wood or medium density fiber board. ‘Teak wood’ I could speak in a flutter, but it was difficult to learn the other word; I always end up messing its letters. I know their correct positioning in my mind, but whenever I intend to speak it, they somehow jumble with each other. Father says it will get better with time, but mother is always worried about me. But then again, I’ve begun to realize that she is a worried soul in general. The other day I overheard her crying on the phone. I didn’t want to overhear the conversation, but some of the words just fell on my ear as I passed by. She was telling the other person that a particular ‘he’ has not responded well to the treatment, and that she sometimes worries whether things will ever improve. I wonder who she was talking about. I wonder about a lot of things, it’s like my brain has a life of its own. Things go around it in circles and circles, sometimes only breaking to form bigger circles. But within these circles, lies an effortless clarity of thoughts. It is as if the complexities form a network of the most simplified shapes and sizes. I’ve tried explaining it to the teacher and sometimes also to my father. But like with other things, I can’t really describe my thoughts as I perceive them. I looked at my notepad, mother made sure I wrote a lot of things in it. I had written on it a reminder to ask the teacher the mirror question. I looked back into the mirror; my parents seemed to have made a decision. I couldn’t help but admire the ease with which they could argue over such an insignificant matter. Didn’t they care that their image in the mirror performs differently on the vertical and horizontal axis? I think it was because they had already figured out these onerous questions, and hence were now worrying about the more trivial aspects of life. I hope one day I become as knowledgeable as they are, and then use this intelligence to contemplate the colour of my new sofa. I looked at father and wondered if I should just ask him the question right now. After careful thinking, I decided against it. He always encouraged me to think for myself, and I knew he would ask me to do the same now. He doesn’t understand that I can’t figure out everything as he can, and the curiosity of waiting just kills me. But if I mention my impatience to him, he will stress even so more on asking the teacher. No wonder the teacher pays extra attention to me in the class, I’m sure mother and father put her upto it.  My eyes shifted their view to the wooden bed that lay beside the mirror. It was a simple box of wood with nothing but black straight lines to beautify it. It wasn’t flashy, but I like it when things are ordinary. Also it cost less, way lesser than the beds mother had chosen for me. They didn’t appreciate my choice, but like always, they let me buy it anyway. It wasn’t the simple design that troubled them; they were instead against my choice of the bed size. I wanted the queen size, the one that’s meant for one person to sleep alone. They wanted me to get the king size, so that I can eventually share my bed if I have to. But I don’t need someone to share my bed with me. For every sleepless night I’ve spent in my old bed, I’ve also had one where I had a wonderful dream. And I couldn’t explain it to them, but I don’t intend on sharing these dreams. Like father always says, I have to be able to do things on my own. It is how we face our fears and shape our challenges that define the person we see in the mirror. I don’t want mine to have a looming shadow over it. I want my mirror-image to be the reflection of who I am. The worries of my mother, the ideologies of my father and the supervision of my teacher need not be reflected alongside me. Father and mother had now moved to the curtains section, and I knew this was my window of opportunity. I took out the pen from my pocket and starting writing, on the bottom-left corner of the bed, my right to its possession. The new wood was tough to scratch through, but I managed a neat job. The bottom-left corner of the bed now read- “MY DEB”. I smiled at the perfection of my work. I put the pen back into my pocket and proceeded towards the curtains section. I had to make sure I get curtains that have straight lines on them.

– Tushant Juneja

When we help people, we do not necessarily make it easy for them. Because while we are simply helping them cross a road, they are lowering their ego and hurting their self respect by accepting their need for help. So remember, sometimes their acceptance is their thank you.