Our Mirrors and Their Cracks
I was born with a mirror given to me. This wasn’t an ordinary mirror; in the sense that it never really reflected my actions as I moved in front of it. In my younger years, when I looked into this mirror, I always saw one still image. I’d always see an infant me surrounded by my parents with initially a toy in one hand, and a puppy in the other. Sometimes the image would change, but only to the extent where I aged, and the objects in my hands changed, so it would go from a toy to sometimes a tiny blanket, or to a teddy bear, and so on. But by this point, I’d internalized the consistency of always seeing a happy child when I looked into that mirror.
This mirror was strange, I’d never fixated on it but I did make sure to keep it protected, till I reached the age of five when I noticed the first scratch on its wooden rim. It was an oddity I didn’t understand, but it bothered me. I recalled the events from the day I first noticed the scratch, I was playing in the park alongside a few other kids from my kindergarten, who were all on the merry go round. All I’d done was ask if I could join them when they said no because If I got on, the merry go round would probably break because of my weight. I remembered feeling a strange movement in my pocket where I always placed my mirror, which I now linked with the scratch on its rim. I looked at my mirror again and this time, I realized the image had changed. My parents were still around me, and I still had my favourite toys in my hands, but I didn’t look as happy as I did before. I accepted it.
After two years of the same experiences every day, at age seven, I moved into a new house in a new city and entered into a school. My mirror now had more scratches on its rim, and the image only consisted of my smiling mother, next to a version of me, whose previously crooked smile had now transformed into a straight one; which, despite its symmetry, made me look unhappy. I accepted it.
It was the first day of school when a boy in my class stuck a note to my desk saying “check out the new ugly girl” looking at which the rest of the class laughed. That day, when I returned home, I saw that my rim’s scratches had turned into cracks, and even that straight smile on my face had disappeared. I looked sad, and I looked ugly. I accepted it.
I reached the end of junior school when I was ten years old, and by this point, the cracks in the rim had deepened. The image no longer had my mother in it, but just an uglier me; crying, pulling a bunch of notes attached to a desk. I accepted it.
At twelve, I had my first crush and asked a boy I liked to eat lunch with me in recess. His response to this was screaming, pushing me to the floor and running off into the distance. I ran to the bathroom to check if the mirror in my pocket was okay. It wasn’t. I saw the first crack that had seeped into the surface of its glass, and an image of me that resembled a wolf, dropping a tray of food to the ground. I accepted it.
Another two years passed by in a glimpse and now I was alone. I was alone surrounded by hundreds of people who couldn’t see me, but I had my mirror. My mirror now had multiple cracks within its glassy surface, and a new image of a girl under a white bedsheet, with two, carved out black holes for eyes. And I accepted it.
I saw the same image every day until I met a girl. I was in the library sitting alone, reading a book when she came to me and asked me the name of what I was reading, because the author seemed familiar. This question turned into a conversation that turned into a daily activity. That week, when I looked at my mirror, its image had changed. I was no longer hidden under a sheet, and I had a slight smile on my face. A year passed and this strange acquaintance I’d met was now my best friend. My mirror now had an image of the two of us sitting happily together on a bench.
One day, when I went to her house, she showed me something. She had a mirror too, and it was a lot like mine. Hers was a lot more scratched up on its rims than mine was initially, but by the next time I saw it, the scratches had started to disappear and the image was also of the two of us sitting happily together.
Things were going great and I was walking in the school hallway one day when I saw my crush from the 6th grade who ran away from me when I talked to him. I was about to take a turn when I saw a couple of kids drop his bag and the things in it. I wanted to help so I approached him, when I saw a mirror on the ground again, similar to mine. I saw that his mirror was extremely shattered, and his image was what looked like him falling from a seemingly great height.
I didn’t realize his mirror was so broken. I gave him a hand with his belongings and asked him to join my friend and I for lunch. He didn’t run away, because this time, he didn’t think it was a joke. The three of us sat together and talked and laughed. In some time, our dynamic duo became a triple threat. Our mirrors were almost healed. We were all in each other’s images, and all of us were happy. This was the best position any of us could’ve been in.
It was the last day of high school, and by this point, everyone knew where they were going after this. I looked around at the rest of my batch and saw the people who once hurt and tormented us, now unaware of what their future held for them. They looked upset. I then went up to the bathroom, only to find one of them staring at a broken mirror, very similar to what mine used to look like, but with an image of a broken home and what I could interpret as a set of abusive caretakers. She was crying and all I could do in that moment was give her a hug, while I felt a scratch on her rim disappear.
You see, I realized that day, that everyone has a mirror, everyone has scratches and cracks and sometimes a broken surface on that mirror, and sometimes, we deal with these cracks in a manner that makes us implement them on other people’s mirrors.
Our images will keep changing, and our cracks may keep reappearing and disappearing, but the only ones who can control that is us. And so, I made a pact with myself that day. To make sure that my mirror never breaks, and if I see someone else whose has, to help them glue its pieces back together.
My name is Ananya, I’m 17 years old, and I’m from India.
I prefer to think of myself as an advocate of mental wellbeing and specifically promote conquering mental illness through the use of any artistic form of expression. I am a musician; singer, songwriter, and semi- composer, as well as a part-time and not- so- good writer.
Ananya can be found on her blog