Mirror, Noire

She glided to the window, the city’s yellowed sphere somehow seeming to be marked for the sole purpose of the buzz below, as if the dark night was nonexistent. The multi-storied apartment that she had bought only 3 months before had been lavishly designed and furnished within no time. Probably the fastest anyone would expect on a 3000+ square feet area. Yet, as she peered down, the window had become a transcending mirror, the city’s gleaming night lights and shining metallic bodied vehicles exuberated a chill. Did the city ever sleep? Did it allow the dark night to fulfill its purpose of carpeting the world under its protection?

The radio played a tango and was so upbeat; it could lift anyone off their seat to break into a dance. As she glanced down below, where the city’s slum and glam co-existed miraculously, sharing the same chill of the night, her mind collapsed into a whirl of thoughts, probing her to lift her feet and dance to the call of mankind. It seemed that the more the city tried to hide its imperfections under the brightness, even as darkness loomed large above, the more its shortcomings were highlighted by the same.

She recalled her visit to an old age home that morning, her every move scrutinized, her public face misinterpreted, her trepidations misunderstood as complacency. Could she ever forget the sorrow and grief on the brow of Vir Uncle, who so charmingly offered her the apple pie he himself made, that very day? His life story had been so heart rending, as he spoke of his bronchial cancer and his daughter’s inadequacy to keep a sick man in his dying days at home. The cameras flashed and the woman he’d been confiding in all along wished for a place for her head. It seemed an injustice to the whole situation. To his being a handicap. To her being the country’s new found diva.

Her window was fogged over now. Probably because of the air temperature her split a/c was set on. Yes, that could be it. Her being alone that night had scarcely given her room for patterned thought. Whether it was Vir Uncle or the insomnia that she had been experiencing for about a year now, that was preventing her from moving away from her window sill, was indeterminable. As she saw the garbage dump piled up in the parallel street to hers, she wondered if her pictures in yesterday’s newspapers were soiled in the dump as well. After all, it’s everybody’s business to criticize the morality of a person, but nobody’s business to follow up on it. A snatching thought played on her mind, would her pictures from today’s corrective gesture find a place in tomorrow’s daily?

Unthinkingly, she lit herself her fifth cigarette that night. Maybe it was the head rush that blurred her vision. But what she could see from her window for those few seconds was a reality that satisfied her state of mind. The shimmering earth lights far till the horizon narrowed their luminosity into star like outlines, a perfect marriage into the celestial.

Ankita Kanwar