Short Story Section: The One-Inch Mirror (Part I)

Written By

Farha Abid

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It would not have mattered to Eve (first woman on planet Earth) whether she was size zero or size plus. There was nothing for the sake of which she would have tip-toed, pouted her lips and cut down on her carbs to flaunt a hand-sized waist. She enjoyed ‘physical freedom’. She could fart, burp and snore. She could look fat, thin or short without apprehension. She was born with the capability of taking decisions, honoring the gift of free will and running the risk of eating the ‘forbidden fruit’. It was only much later when men discovered that they could wield power and influence by owning women and other quadrupeds.

To make women go around — almost pitiably, trying to find their way out like a lost bug rambling on the rim of a wine glass, a wicked wizard meditated for years and created a one-inch mirror. The old wizard knew that for a woman to be oblivious to her intellectual prowess, she must be kept busy with how she appears. When he blew the curse of ‘dissatisfaction with one’s own body’ into the one-inch mirror, he knew he had given mankind an eternal gift of supremacy. The mirror was a trap for women; it would catch and confine them in the space of an inch… strange coincidence, for this is how much man’s eye opens up to behold!

Once a mighty King showed his Queen her reflection in the one-inch mirror he had brought from his expedition in Khorasan. On its ornate gold frame were intricate carvings of beautiful ‘hooris’ who had gazelle’s eyes set in curvaceous, perfect bodies. The Queen was possessed by the desire to be as beautiful as the hooris.

The King’s favorite was a priest who came every afternoon to amuse his Queen and concubines with folklore of faraway places. From the worn-out brown bag that hung on the priest’s sagging shoulders would invariably emerge a desiccated palm leaf with a story inscribed on it, and thus the tale-telling would begin. That day he read out the story of King Solomon; a mighty king with command over not just humans, but birds, animals and even djinns. “He could talk to ants in their language. Once a djinn told King Solomon about a Queen who lived in a far off land and owned a throne that could fly in the sky! On Solomon’s order, the djinn stole the throne of the Queen,” gasped the priest.

“What was the name of that Queen?” the curious Queen asked. He said, “She was known as Queen of Sheba. She had influence on the greater part of the world and was more than an equal match to King Solomon… until she lifted her gown to walk on the glass flooring in Solomon’s court.” After a brief pause he resumed, “She was enthralled by the finesse of the glass on the floor beneath which colours and fish of all sorts were swimming. Nothing much about her is written after that, Your Majesty,” said the priest. The Queen got curious, “Why did Solomon get a glass floor to welcome the Queen of Sheba?” The priest deliberated for a moment and replied with confidence, “My Lady, it is not written here. In my understanding, it may be because women admire grandeur and wealth.” The priest grinned at his ability to pacify the royalty’s inquisitiveness, exposing a shining gold tooth. He left.

As he left, all the King’s concubines encircled the Queen and whispered in her ears that the priest was believed to have a bag in which he carried tools of beauty from around the world. He would not show anyone until the Queen commanded him to. The Queen raised her left brow in disbelief. That night she retrieved the one-inch mirror from under the pillow to see her reflection again. Far off, in her imagination, the Queen of Sheba lifted her gown again on the glass floor. Blue and orange fish slithered under her feet.

Next day when the priest came, the Queen enquired about the contents of his bag. The priest uttered hesitantly, “Your Majesty, it has small things which may not be of much interest to you.” The Queen decreed that he must show her everything. The concubines huddled around with excitement, transfixed by the old, darned, brown bag of the priest.

(Read Part II to know how this riveting story ends.)




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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