The snow-white rice powder dribbled through her fingers onto the freshly-washed floor of the front porch. It was her simple no-frills kolam design. Just that single stroke around the 5 dots. It took her 3 minutes to finish it, rounded and complete, unassuming unobtrusive white, no sharp intrusions into the space around, not drawing attention, its presence only noticed when absent. Like her, she thought, without irony or self-pity. And went about her day just like any other.
It is twenty years later and she can see the scene clearly in her head. The sun is hard at work outside while she lies in bed gazing at the picture, a calendar picture. The girl with long curly light hair, luminous washed-clean skin, long legs in soft denim, round frames on her eyes; she is a glossy picture of freshness, youth, possibilities. She sits on a green grassy ground of a college campus, with a big bound book open on her lap. The girl on the outside is looking in, seeing a blue-jeaned world, a world of pretty womanhood on the cusp, of independence and escape, of unbounded futures, of promises of fame and romance and sex, of cosmopolitanism, intellectualism. It is twenty years later and she wonders if she is still the girl looking in.
The rain is relentless. She goes out into it to let it beat down on her mercilessly. She wants cleansing, a melting away of everything corrosive. The caustic soul is crying to be purified. And she stands clench-fisted under the grey thundering skies. The rage is relentless.
The inertia is delicious. The chores are for now outside the cat-like stretch she allows herself. The sky is a dull grey promising cooling rain and for once she is grateful for the un-drawn curtains. She decides she likes grey. She curls up against the warm body next to her and dreams. It’s a Sunday morning and there is a little time for laziness.
The Mirror of Erised
In the darkened room, the sharp glint in the mirror draws her in. She approaches it slowly, excitement warring with fear…and the excitement winning out, as always. Two steps closer and she can see the fire, the burning and the swish of the swords cutting through the air; almost feel the sharpness biting through flesh and the damp hot fear, almost hear the wordless screams. She can feel the heady power of the sword-wielder and sense the triumph in his heart, sense the power and the glory of the conqueror. She looks closer, deeper and sees her eyes in his, her heart in his, all of her in him, he is her and she is him. Startled, she draws back instinctively, wanting to deny it, wish it away… but The Mirror has spoken and there is no rest for her soul.