mirror sale

I was walking idly down one of the side streets of Sydney. I had arrived too late to the city and everything was closing, all the shops mocked at me through their empty lit show windows. I turned the corner, and I saw that there was one open shop. It was a mirror shop, and there was a huge banner proclaiming: mirror sale. I had nothing else to do, and so I walked in. The shop was empty of people except for a red headed girl who was manning the counter. She was reading a book. She looked up as I came in, and only said, we’re closing in 20 mins. I said ok, and wandered around. It was basically one room, with all the walls packed with mirrors. The only mirror-free place was the ceiling. I pretended that I needed a mirror and I slowly walked around. I kept catching glimpses of the redhead through the mirrors, she seemed really engrossed in the book, though at times she would look up, and once our eyes even met fleetingly mediated by a thousand reflections. I was trying hard to see what she was reading, but the mirror twisted title was proving too hard to read. She suddenly got up, put the book on the table and came up to me. She said- you like this one?, the frame is really special. I looked at the frame for the first time. there were small gargoyles perched at the edges. I said, no not really…it gives me the creeps. Mirrors have always given me the creeps. I trace this back to a nightmare I had when I was a kid. I dreamt that I was at the sink for some reason, and as I was washing my face, my reflection became darker and somehow started moving out of the mirror towards me. I retreated from the image and was crouching in the corner, and then I woke up. Since then I never had any fondness for mirrors. I have taught myself to do without them, and were it not for shaving and driving, I could happily spend the rest of my life without them. I told the redhead that I really didn’t like mirrors very much, and asked her how she could bear to work in a shop that had only mirrors. She said, I don’t know, it’s like, y’know, I’m not alone. It’s like there are a lot of people looking at me, and it’s nice. She changed the subject- she asked me where I was from. I said India, wondering how she knew that I was not from Australia. It’s turning out to be really hard to distinguish Indian-Australians from Indian-Indians for me, but I guess my accent proved that I was not from around here. She said, oh, I had an indian neighbour once, they were always so noisy and colorful, especially the festivals…what do you call it…deewalee? yeah, diwali, i said, it can be fun. She went back to the counter and picked up her book again. I stood there for a minute or two, but my thousand faces grew oppressive and I decided to leave. As I headed for the door, I said bye to the girl, and she said, here take this. ‘This’ was a small wooded ring like thing, with a mirror at the base. I said thanks and left.
I boarded the bus at the corner and on the way I pulled out the thing she had given me and looked at it. The mirror was so small and indistinct that I could just make out one eye. But this mirror lied as well. I have a mole on my lower eyelid, near the left eye. The mirror eye didn’t.


a day in the life of kafka?

We (E and D) reached the Building at 9:30. First the taxi driver told us that the building we wanted was not the Building. He said there are three buildings and he dropped us off at the Building, and we got down relucantly, not wanting to believe him. He was right, though. The Building was supposed to open at 9:00 and we thought we were fairly early, considering that we had to cross almost the whole country to get there.But we were mistaken. Crowds stood at the entrance, and when we heard the clamour of foreign voices, we realised we were already taking the first steps towards a strange land. The Guard told us that we cannot enter without a Number. We asked him- what number? and where do we get it? He said- come the evening before, and only then you will be allowed to enter the Building. All the people standing there laughed at our naiveness. But E told the guard-please we come from very far, a place called SB. Do you know where it is? We cannot afford to come here everyday. The Guard said he did not know, but no matter he would let us in. That was the First Kindness. We entered the Building but the problem increased in scale. There was another huge crowd of people standing at a door with words written in three ancient languages. In front of the Door stood the Selector, a man who’s duty was to pick out the Chosen Ones from the crowd. The Chosen Ones were selected in ascending order of the Number. And we didn’t have a Number. So E went to him and said- We come from SB, can you let us in? And he said- No way I can let you into the Inner Sanctum. As we stood there among the thronging crowds, the Second Kindness occurred. A soldier who did not need a Number but had mistakenly acquired one gave his Number to E. Now we had a Number, if only one. We had a chance! Seven hours we stood in the Numbered Line (as opposed to the Unnumbered Line, which consisted of people who had incurred Favours from past incarnations or something), a line that magically swelled and diminished, but still the people kept coming. Seven hours we listened to the voices speak strange words, all uncomprehensibly flowing around, mysterious in everything but tone. Which was mainly irritation. We spoke tiny phrases to our accidental comrades on this Journey to enter the Inner Sanctum; all kinds of people making the same trip: a trilingual Heartbreaker, a blonde Moodwrecker, a retiring Visitor, even a New Soldier. Finally the eyes of the Selector fell on us and we were able to enter the Inner Sanctum, just before the Door closed for the day. But further problems awaited us. Or rather me. The Woman in the Glass Cage told me that I need the true Invitation and the one I had was not good enough. Apparently it was okay for E, but because my history was different from hers, I was denied the favours. Fortune shall surely favour me another time.