A Red Mirror
by Dibyasree Nandy
Smearing my lips red, brushing my cheeks with rouge…
My forearms were always burly with sinews.
Cicadas cast off their husks, a natural law,
I chose to shed the form I was born with,
Was that a fundamental flaw?
The mirror displayed a distortion I did not loathe,
My parents shrank back,
I wondered, if I am not disgusted,
Why should you hate me?
Mismatched looks, my brown face in contrast with scarlet,
Jawlines pronounced, not a blushing maiden’s demure mien,
Yet I was glad,
I am what I wanted to be, a nurturing, soft soul.
My palms were not tinted peach,
Deep lines criss-crossed like a muddy trench,
Hands not meant to bear the fruits of love,
Yet I was at peace,
I am what I wanted to be, a mother, nothing more, nothing less.
Such a lovely crimson dress, I desired it much,
I was asked to leave at once,
Wasn’t it some wise, old fellow who said wealth was for all to share?
Yet I did not mind in the least,
I am what I wanted to be, a lady of high class.
But the mirror was slowly turning red,
My fingers bled, glass lodged in my raw skin, numb,
Shattering sounds reached my ears, shards fell to the floor,
Cracks appeared on my chestnut image,
Perhaps a fist had been a tad too strong.
Yet I was happy,
It must have been someone else who looted my room,
My jewellery, gowns and hairpins gone,
But am I not what I wanted to be, a woman in every sense of the term?