Distorted Reflections

Raina Shah, Class 9, JBCN International School, Mumbai

I looked away at breakneck speed as soon as my eyes fell upon the taunting image before me. I winced as the forgotten shards of mirror scattered on the floor grazed my foot. Blood as red as rubies oozed out of my leg, and the river of blood matched the river of tears painted on my face. I grabbed my dainty lace handkerchief lying on my desk to clean the mess I created.

My name, Amara, etched on the handkerchief in delicate cursive, was now ruined with the marks of my blood. I started laughing maniacally at the irony—my name meant beauty and I certainly didn’t have any. My handkerchief reflected my current state like a mirro-

Stop. I was treading on dangerous waters and was thankful when my alarm started ringing. I recalled the errands I needed to run and wrapped my dupatta (a traditional shawl) around my face and marched out of my house.

The azure sky paired with the windy weather made for a pleasant day, and I soon got lost in mirthful thoughts. That’s probably why I didn’t notice the upcoming gush of wind that tore away my only mask of defense against the world. I screamed as my dupatta flew away from my face and was horrified to hear another scream echo mine. A petite girl with blonde hair had a look of pure terror on her face as her blue eyes looked into mine. “No, no, it’s okay, little one. I won’t hurt you-” I said, but the girl ran away in distress.

My acid burns had turned me into a monster that kids were scared of. As I dejectedly walked away, tired of being trapped in my body, I faintly heard an old lady ask me for directions.

I put on a fake smile and turned and replied. “Thank you, pretty girl,” the pale lady with sunken cheeks said as she slowly walked past.

Pretty? She called me pretty? As I pondered over the lady’s remark, I noticed a deep puddle a few feet ahead.

Since the day my face was scarred, I always thought of my reflection as a mirage. An optical illusion mocking me. A deceptive image showing me fragments of what could have been. Showing me my stormy-gray eyes and my wavy copper hair. But I was always reminded how all of that dulled in comparison to my giant scars. These reminders rip me away from a deluded reality where I can pretend that I’m just an average girl without any horrific burns.

But how long will I keep running from my own reflections? How long will the burden of “not being normal” bind me? How long will the shadows of my past threaten my present? These scars show everyone that I survived. Maybe the old lady didn’t mean her casual comment, but I refuse to let one singular quality about me define who I am. I lifted my head and faced the puddle.

I finally saw myself.


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