Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Everybody loved her because everybody could be somebody when they talked to her. She would laugh at their jokes, respond with the ‘ahans” and the “ohs” that made their story not just heard but felt. She would agree with your opinions mostly but sometimes also pause and look askance, as if reflecting on what you just said, weighing your words – and you would wait in anticipation for “out” or “not out”. When it would be an “out” it would be so tentatively, softly, still leaving some room for negotiation, making you feel that you were talking to a real person and not an interactive, smart program on the other side of the line. Sometimes, after you had reaffirmed your intellectual superiority, legitimized your actions in front of her and consequently in front of yourself, you would go from feeling like a superstar to feeling like a complete idiot who just stripped naked in front of someone to realize that she was still fully clothed. You feel violated. Like a dream where who you thought was your lover was a ghoul disguised as your lover. How do you know that in your dreams? It’s the coldness in the eye, the deathliness in the touch. But her eyes are still warm, and her touch still affectionate. You want to shake her up and ask her who she is. She is the boundary between familiar and unfamiliar, between the self and the other, between friend and enemy. It makes you uncomfortable, if only this minute. Boundaries can be anything. It excites you, if only this minute. Is she the much poeticised “enigmatic woman” that keeps drawing thirsty discoverers to her, men and women alike? Conscious now of yourself and of her, you restrain your talking about yourself and strain your ears for the slightest sound she would make about herself. But it is too late. She has seen your pitiable nakedness and knows the consequences of stripping. She will hold her shawl around herself tightly. But she being who she is, she doesn’t want to break your heart. So she will take her socks off, hesitatingly but in earnest, holding the promise of tomorrow. And tomorrow again, as today, you will fall prey to your vanity, your insecurities. Tomorrow again you will itch to reaffirm your intellectual superiority, to legitimize your actions in front of her, and consequently in front of yourself, and go from being a superstar to feeling naked.

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