This is about a beginning, one that I could not even begin to imagine at the time, let alone see. As far as I could see, I was in the middle of an end. Around me, as far as the eye could see, there were only swamps, the swamps of end. Their sense of anticipation as they waited for me to make my decision was palpable. I was tiring myself out walking in circles on pathways that took me nowhere. They knew I’d reach a point of no return and then would choose their certainty over anything else. The knowledge made them complacent in their wait to gobble me up and burp in satisfaction.
One morning I woke to find an apparition in the mirror. She wore crumpled clothes that looked slept in. I wondered who she could be. Her hands were like sticks. Unkempt hair framed her gaunt and haunted looking face. Her eyes seemed as if she had been crying from the day she was born. Who was she? What was she doing in my mirror? More importantly how had she got there? It was my house, my room, my mirror. I opened my mouth to ask her to leave. I needed the mirror to see myself.
She said the same to me. With a shock I realized the reflection in the mirror was I myself. But… but… Where was the cache of diamonds I stored in my eyes? Had I misplaced them somewhere? I had become so careless. The stock of pearls I freely drew from and distributed so thoughtlessly to anyone I met seemed to be lost too. Silkiness had deserted my hair leaving it rough to touch. I looked down at the shabby dress I was wearing. When had I last had a bath and change of dress?
I tried to recall where she had disappeared, the girl I knew, the one who danced in the rain. I searched for her sunshine smile in the reflection in the mirror. She looked back at me as searchingly. The aura of defeat we saw affected us the same way. It crushed us. We cried, together, my reflection and I, in racking sobs, for our mislaid dreams. We had lost. The swamps were beginning to look so much more inviting today. There lay our escape. The coolness of their slimy mud would soothe our feverish souls.
I don’t know when the realisation dawned, but it did. The sobs stopped abruptly as I examined the new evidence. Why was I standing helplessly watching myself getting lost? Who was I expecting to come along and guide me out of the maze? Was it they who pushed me in or those that stood by watching the fun as I desperately sought a way out? Why did I think from among those who did not care either way would arise a savior? I glanced at the mirror at the puffy eyes and tear stained face staring back at me. That was certainly not the person I knew.
Somewhere along the way, the outside had succeeded in creeping into the insulated inside and wreaking havoc with who I was. My self confidence lay in tatters all around me. I made a spot decision. I was going to pick up the same pieces and stitch myself a new dress. In time I would learn to darn it so well that the stitches would not show. We promised each other that, my reflection and I.
For now I had a quick wash, changed into fresh new clothes, combed my errant hair into place, applied kajal to my tired eyes and adorned my forehead with a bright red bindi. I glanced into the mirror and smiled. My reflection smiled back at me. The swamps miraculously receded into the distance. I hoped soon they would be just a distant memory. The pathways still looked convoluted and intimidating. I could not yet see a way that led out. But determination had been called into service to see me through these hardest of times. I could see it in the eyes in the mirror too. We nodded to each other, my reflection and I, before we walked away, to our dawn of beginnings.