Short Story Section: One Inch Mirror (Part II)

Written By

Farha Abid

One inch mirror.part2-02 Loading

(Continued from Part I)

He put his hand in the bag and took out a Lotus feet shoe. The Queen examined the shoe for a moment before she turned to the priest, “What is this? Whose feet on earth could possibly fit in this? The priest said, “There is a place called Cheen where ladies bind and break their feet to fit into this, lotus feet are a sign of beauty.” His hand went inside again, he grabbed a big thick bangle and showed it to the Queen. She remarked, “Ah, a bangle. What’s special about this?” He nodded his head in negation, “This is an earring Your Majesty”. The Queen was perplexed to learn this and so were all concubines. They all said in unison, “It is too thick and heavy!” The priest smiled and said, “There is a place across the river Sindhu where long earlobes are considered beautiful. Women pierce their earlobes and hang this heavy ring to stretch them.” The Queen was not satisfied yet. She asked him to show her more.

He said, “I have everything that can sculpt women to perfection so that men may seek them. These are tools from all over the world — scales to measure them, scalpels to correct them, pointed nails for them to stand on so that their legs may look more beautiful.” The priest tittered in his usual fashion.

The Queen thought of the hooris on the one-inch mirror and then commanded: “You may go now. But bring me a tool of beauty that does not cut or measure yet shapes one into the best form.” The priest left puzzled. The priest was thinking hard but he had no idea what was it from his bag that could satisfy the Queen. He had to think fast or earn the wrath of the King.

Evening was spreading its robe over the burning desert. The shadow of the priest had left him but his quest was standing there still gaping at his helplessness. He fumbled in his bag to find something and then his eyes went up towards the sky. There were 12 stars twinkling above. His eyes sparkled bright like two little fireflies under the cover of the deep, dark night. He gathered his belongings and ran towards the capital of the kingdom.

Back in her room, the Queen sat on her bed, staring at the one-inch mirror with pursed lips. Just as she was conjuring images of how she’d look after the priest would honor her command, war drums were beaten and trumpets were blown. The sound of approaching hoofs filled the air. The kingdom was under attack.

A court lady came running and informed the Queen that traitors were galloping towards the palace. In her frenzy, she threw aside the one-inch mirror. It lay broken in a hundred pieces, reflecting a hundred Queens unsheathing their swords.

She mounted on her white horse. She flashed out of the stable wearing her bright yellow robe. Her cavalry followed her. Death was dancing. Arrows were raining. Her sword was like a light flailing and flashing around.

She fought valiantly alongside the King. They had trounced all their opponents by the time the first ray of the sun broke at dawn. The Queen half bent, propping on her sword, as she and the king relished their victory. She was covered in blood and sweat. Her sword was stained with the enemy’s blood; its tip was dug deep in mud. Her face had a glow of victory.

The air was heavy with blood and mist. She heard the sound of mud squelching beneath some footsteps. Someone was behind her. The priest was standing at a respectful distance. “Your Majesty, I come to give you the tool of beauty that you desired. It’s like those diamonds that lie in the backyard in plain sight, but the poor farmer hunts high and low for them. She looked, puzzled, into his eyes.  The priest continued. “My Lady, in a desperate moment I looked up and found the 12 stars making the constellation that appeared to be Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, war, art and skill. I have brought for you two things — a pen and a sword. Pen for the beauty of your skill, art and wisdom and sword to stand for yourself and others. They do not re-size any woman yet they can shape the beauty of her thoughts, the height of her intellect, and the depth of her knowledge. This, my lady, is real beauty — and its allure extends far beyond the one-inch gaze of man. A beautiful woman is one that fights for herself and others. The beauty with which you are standing on this ground, my lady, is too much to behold. To be beautiful is to be free — from sizing, dimensions and standards.”

The priest had finished, but the Queen stood amazed, wanting to hear more. Far away in the palace the cursed mirror was lying in pieces. God knows who picked it up and got trapped. It is said that the priest continued his tale-telling at the Queen’s palace but he never showed his bag to anyone again.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am a stay-at-home mom. I work 24*7. I am paid in love. This is how simply my life can be defined now when I have taken a break from a decade long fulfilling career in Human Resources. Now, I use my skills like 'Performance Management' for my hubby and 'Learning & Development' for my daughter at home. I enjoy reading and writing. I am popular in my friend circle for my unique chicken recipes but I owe it to YouTube (which I never mention). As I have crossed the thirty year mark, people have started to take my opinions less lightly, and my new passion is to have an opinion about everything.

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