mirror mirror on the wall
who’s the fairest of us all?
S*@t i think to myself, as i drive down the road, as always i took a wrong turn and can’t figure out where i am headed. How do i do this every bloody time? Okay, i think i have seen that little tuck shop before maybe i am not that off the mark,but then again there’s another tuck shop almost identical looking diagonally across this one. A tuck shop, really? i thought of keeping a tuck shop in mind as a landmark?, i ask myself. Okay, maybe it’s time to pull over and google map myself out of here. I manage to add address in destination option and wait.
Viola! There it is, a beautiful blue snake like line with a big hot air balloon at one end. Super i think to myself, 20 mins to destination. I love technology, i step on the accelerator, turn up the radio and sing along as google guides me home.
Reaching a traffic light i look around happily, i may not recognize the roads but i don’t care, for i know i am on the right track. I glance happily at my phone at and the map re assuredly, almost like google is a partner sitting beside me. Wait a minute, i looked at the time to destination, 30 minutes it says.I wonder if traffic has increased? I drive on, wondering what an unusual number of trucks around today.Time to destination 45 minutes. Oh oh!!
The map, i read the map wrong. Of course, i can’t read maps, i never could. Now i am completely lost and the world around me starts to spin in my head, the shanties, the tuck shops, the mechanic garages with their broken down cars,street vendors, stray dogs, slum children playing cricket next to the highway with a piece of wood and a broken ball falling lopsidedly on every bounce,now all seem to close in on me,panic sets in thick and fast, as i feel my breathing getting shallow and faster and my palms getting cold and sweaty all at once. I look out for street names, or directions,a big sign board shows directions to Surat in Gujarat, oh good lord, have i exited the city, more panic.
I reach for my phone frantically calling Cy, he will know where i am and get me out of here. The phone doesn’t connect, he is on flight, oh no, call mum, no answer, she never has her phone on her, dad will always answer promptly, and yes he does, what a relief, “hi dad”, “Hi, Shaheen, where are you?”, “that’s what i need your help with actually, do you know S.V Road? “yes”, “i am near some Hotel Rocky, any idea which direction is home?” “yes turn right and get on to a main road”, “I am on a main road”, my panic is slowly dissipating into laughter, speaking to dad as i begin to realize my sense of direction is an inheritance from him and this conversation may just take me farther away from destination. My hot air balloon on the map is half its size as the snake marking my directions home has grown to anacondaic proportions.
Eventually i did find my way home, i always do, even if my route may not be as straight as the crows flight.
My phone rings, its my daughter, she needs directions as she is lost, and i hand the phone over to Cy.
Driving my dad to work, i can see his hand gesturing in a conversational manner from the corner of my eye, i know he is playing out his thoughts in his head, playing devil’s advocate, or simply putting his point across in an imaginary meeting in his head. I know this because that’s exactly what i do.
As the kids grow and express their likes and dislikes, discover their strengths and weaknesses, i am reminded of my own. i watch my parents and i am beginning to see now almost exactly what i am going to turn into. i look around me and see repeated patterns and habits generation after generation.
i feel like i am standing in a hall of mirrors,multiples of reflections everywhere, ahead of me and behind me, making me wonder
if i am really me or merely a reflection of a reflection of a reflection?