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I wrote this for the FWF: Take good look at yourself. “This weekend your challenge is to take a long look in the mirror. Literally and….free write.” So here goes:

To look at your face in the mirror and write something, whatever comes to mind, is definitely not as easy as I thought.  But I will make a fair try. I look at my reflection. My crowning glory, the envy of many, just beginning to go gray at the temples, but now copper-colored with the henna I apply, frames my face and falls in natural wavy curls on to my shoulders. I am lucky when it comes to my hair. I don’t have to spend hours on it. My ancestors have passed down genes to me that makes my hair the easiest to manage. But… but that’s just a tiny part of the whole I see in the mirror.

Suddenly I am reminded of Kamikaze Cat’s words. “Your profile picture makes you look so exhausted by Luci’s pranks,” she had told me yesterday. Yup, the face in the mirror looks exhausted. But is it Luci’s doing? Hell, no. I spend way too much time in front of the laptop, reading, reading and reading some more. And when I am done with that I read ‘real’ books. My eyes look so damn tired. I wish we had replaceable parts. I would have bought another set of eyes so that I could give rest to these two. That is how much I use them.

That’s when I notice the dangling gold ear-bobs peeping through my hair. It is amazing really. I bought the pair in 1982, the year I got married. Twenty-nine years down the line, I still have the same thingummy-bobs adorning my ears. Oh yes, I have taken them off to wear something different for parties or weddings. But I can’t be bothered to do that any longer. Just the thought makes me feel lazy. Yeah, I have had people tell me that dangling ear-bobs don’t suit those on the wrong side of fifty. Oh really?!  Who cares anyways?! Not me.

A closer look reveals the tiny scar just above my upper lip. You need to be really observant (not to mention have pretty good eyes too) to notice it, it is that small. It was “gifted” to me ages back by my dog Simi who was preggers and high on hormones. Well I myself was pregnant at the time. But I did not bite her back, and was only on the verge of tears at the betrayal of trust.

What else? Apart from the tired eyes. I have a nose on my face, the “lovely” nose that once got battered unintentionally by the L & M’s elbow but escaped narrowly from getting squished to a pulp. A fair amount of tiny moles dot my face. The lines on my forehead are more prominent now. Crows-feet is something I have always had… the easy-on-smiles person that I am. Below my face is my thick neck, now getting thicker, and that I have always hated.

Though these are what I see when I stare at my reflection in the mirror, what I actually “see” is something different. Beyond the obvious reflection is the “real” me. How many are able to “see” that invisible person, I wonder?!

How many of us actually see the person beyond and behind the face and the features there in? Do we really know one another in the truest sense? How many of us bother to make the effort to give thought to the real person beyond the pretty or not-so pretty face? (For me there is never a not-so-pretty face. All faces are beautiful as beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, truly so)

From experience I know for a fact not many (most aren’t) are interested in knowing another in the truest sense.  They make snap decisions on what they see, slot the person in one among the limited number of categories they have come up with to divide all of humanity into… and that’s it. If she looks and acts like this, she must belong to Category B. If he says that he must be from Category F. Oh he talks weird, dresses even more eccentrically, so he definitely falls in Category D. You get the drift? It is all superficial, this division and totally off the mark, born of a narrow and subjective (now that’s the operative word) outlook, the assumption that the categories they come up with are the only existing ones. How pathetic.

So today when I look in the mirror I wonder how many see beyond the tired eyes, the lined forehead, the ever-present smile, the collection of tiny black moles, the scar, the almost bashed nose, the wavy hair et al. How many see beyond and into the words spoken and unspoken? How many want to? Perhaps I will never ever know. And just may be, I prefer it that way.