How I'd love sitting in front of the mirror and admire myself! They say I'm very pretty. That day, flailing my arms and chirping like a bird, I sat before my dressing table, bedazzled in a baby pink saree and a ruby necklace, with an impish smile. They say, in pink, I look like a princess. Jeez!!! I gave a start and some of the body lotions fell on my lap. What's this? That wasn't my beautiful face! Nor was that my flawless skin! That was something terrible! Corroded! It seemed like an acid attack victim!
"Who's this? Some ghost? Some apparition? Am I hallucinating?" The sight shuddered me. No!!! I shrieked in horror and shut my eyes. I was panting heavily and my heartbeat could be heard from a distance.
Recomposing myself, I slowly and reluctantly opened my eyes to see if that's gone. No! She was still there staring at me with her grave eyes. O, God! That's so hideous! Trembling, I turned my face off her again.
Perspiring heavily and fighting back my breath, I whispered, "I must be daydreaming….. so many times Mom has told me not to see horror movies!" One moment! I remembered her eyes mirroring acute pain, my heart moved and I felt an immediate affinity with her. And I decided to confront her. Having been an ardent advocate of beauty, I was finding that really hard to look at her mangled face, but there were still some vague traces of beauty left like clues to what one was. Though I was numb with fear, I sat… I sat to know why she was here.
We looked in each other's eyes, there was agony in hers and questions in mine. She stared at me in astonishment and murmured in a brittle voice, "How funny! You can't bear my sight today when you're the one who has done this to me."
I gave her a puzzled look and said almost diffidently, "What me? I don't know you from Adams? "
"I used to be extremely beautiful, and I was on cloud nine that I got you as my companion who cared about me."
"What're you saying? Are you insane? I think you're at the wrong place," I looked at her in disbelief.
Her eyes filled with intense pain, "Today, you're refusing to recognize me, your all-time friend. I can't handle it anymore! I'm on the brink of death! Either cure me or kill me." And she started crying bitterly hiding her face with her wounded hands.
Curiosity took over fear, "Ok! Ok! Stop Crying! Let's talk. Who're you? "
"We're the best friends once and would do everything concertedly. How happy we're in each other's company! I still remember our heyday!" and she smiled reminiscently.
"But you got new friends and abandoned me." A tear rolled down her left eye. I felt the instinct to wipe it off but stopped myself. "I swear, I tried to follow you, but you were way too far. And whenever, I was just in time to catch up with you, I was tongue-lashed and kicked. Ah! My body aches!! My heart wails! You jilted me, I am shattered!"
Sobbing, "Still, being a true friend, I tried to stop you from going with them as they were wolves in sheep's clothing. So many times, I heard them conspiring against you, but when I came to warn, you blew me up. Filled with vengeance, your friends hit me brutally. Having been perpetually neglected and tormented, I am in decrepitude. Now, I've reached such a state that who once would swear to die on my beauty, is not ready to catch even a glance of mine." She said harrowingly and sighed.
"Have I really done something wrong with this poor thing or she's just making up?" I was befuddled because I still could not recollect the time spent with her. She'd become a mystery for me….a real mystery.
"Are you tricking on me? I really can't remember you."
She said brusquely, "I am your Conscience… your inevitable part."
My blood froze and I stood there stiffened. A blinding light struck me and a panorama of flashback memories paraded before me. I recollected every moment of our friendship, our relationship, our love for each other. A sudden surge of emotion took over me, and I darted towards her with my welled eyes. But Ego, one of my best friends, heaved into sight to hold my hand. She's the one who never left me alone. She would judge everyone before I started talking and then directed me on how to behave.
Ego, "No, you haven't wronged anyone, she's being manipulative, let her not take a toll on you. Her state is not your responsibility. You'd to move on and she wasn't changing. Be wise. Be strong."
Yep, nodding and toughening myself, I tried to be defensive, "Hey you! What's your problem? Don't look at me like this. I didn't do anything."
I stole a peek on her to see if she'd stopped staring at me. "Oh! Remove your eyes from me. You're sickening me. I had to cope with the world and that was not possible without leaving you." Ego beamed and muttered in my ears, "Great going!"
Though I tried to dominate her, guilt started to overcast me and I craved to say sorry. Her distorted face and bitterness that had overlaid her real beauty sent a shiver down my spine, and I was just about to get up and console her when my friend, Anger appeared right out of the blue, "Don't give up. You can't be so weak. I don't understand what would happen to you if we don't come to your rescue. Always submissive!" Anger had always protected me. He would always emerge when I was about to lose in any dispute and pounce on each and every enemy. With him, I felt so safe.
I stood up gathering all the courage and aggressively started, "Don't try to juggle with my life. I didn't want to get stuck with an ass-head who refuses to grow. Life's so beautiful and you pull me behind. Did you see how all my colleagues flourished even though they're less deserving? No promotion! No appreciation even after slogging so much! This is the time of being practical. Idealism … ideologies and blah …blah….look good in books. I caught my breath and glimpsed at her."
Seeing her thwarted face hung in disappointment, a sense of being accountable seeped in me, and I felt a squeeze in my stomach. My expression changed and I yearned to hug and caress her. But Greed, who'd been deciding my goals and strategies, held my shoulders tightly, "Hey Fella! you've to go a long way. We've been working very hard to materialize your goals. Making up with her will block your path. See, your promotion is round the corner, many things have to be done. You've to deal with your bosses. Opportunity knocks at your door only once."
Fear followed her and said curtly, "You'll be all alone! He who chooses her gets nothing but loneliness. All your friends, relatives, colleagues will abandon you. Do you remember how people would flee seeing you with her? You have strived a lot to reach here. Now, the choice is all yours, you want to flourish or you want to renounce everything for which you've been working relentlessly." Fear was a great friend of mine and he would have a safe success path for me.
Yep, I found them rational, "See… you… you're not my type…. let's go our ways. Having you by my side is a risk. You don't let me do anything that the world likes. Always your way… always your way… that's so different! Do you know how the world is? It's full of selfishness and crooks. Rarely people like actions driven by you. I had to become one of them because I had to live with them… and not only live… I wanted money…promotion…friends….so much….and so much is still left. Hmm! A final goodbye to you!"
Her face flushed with pain and embarrassment, "Ok! If you don't want to stay with me, I'll not vex you anymore. I'll never come back. But before leaving, I just want to ask one last question." She stopped for a while, "Are you really happy after leaving me?" And I stood there paralysed.…no answer….
All my friends surrounded me and mumbled in tandem, "We're your true friends. We have put in a lot of effort to help you reach here, let's not your one emotional decision nullify everything. If she stays with you, we'll have to leave."
And I accompanied them with my inflated heart that was hungering to embrace her, but I didn't want to lose them also, as they played a great role in making me what I was today. I was in two minds. Her last words kept ringing in my ears no matter how much ever I tried to stay away from her thought. I was filled with intense pain and penitence. Her corroded face reflecting deep ache kept flashing before me, and I found myself strangled. I felt an excruciating pain in my head and strain in my entire body. My mind stopped working and I frenziedly ran out and kept running without even knowing where I was going. Looking up, I spread my arms letting the raindrops tap on my face, my body, my every pore, and comfort me from the suffering.
"O, God! Please, help me! She's my oldest friend who'd always been my torchbearer. I was so comfortable, so free, so relaxed when I was in her company. And these are the friends who love me and care about me. Why can't they stay together? Why can't Conscience befriend them and they accept her? Why, invariably, there's a conflict between Conscience and them? Conflict! I've to resolve this conflict! I don't want to lose any of them! "
"But how can I be so cruel? How can I be so ignorant? I've made up my mind. Yes, I'll abandon everything in the world for the sake of you. You're my soul mate. You are my love. I'm incomplete without you. I'm coming…I'm coming darling to hug you, to envelop you, to cure both of us… for you…only for you…. I'm sure, they'll understand and for my sake, they'll accept you…. I'll tell them clearly that you'll stay with us."
By the time I regained consciousness, I realized that I was on the road and completely drenched. But, the dilemma had dissipated and I was relieved. A faint smile appeared on my face. Yeah! We'll stay together. I ran towards my house to embrace her. "Hey darling, I'm coming…. Wait! I'll cure you….. You'll be alright. "
But the sight at my house made my stomach lurch. Some brutes were battering her barbarously. Perplexed, I hid behind the door to discern the reality. Anger, who always proved to be my armor, turned into a stout crimson-faced, pot-bellied beast with two curved horns on his bald head. He had his canines peeping out of his mouth that gave him a monstrous look. He was lashing Conscience severely. Ego, my mentor, with her calculating eyes that were glinting with hostility and violence, darted at her with a sickle. Her skin was as cold and white as a winter's moon. Greed, a grisly, yellow-eyed, ambitious woman, having arthritic spindly legs like an old spider and a raven's nose, was seemingly bossing around. Her eyes were smoldering with vengeance. Oh! These two were my best friends. Hatred was a grotesque green skinny woman with blazing eyes. She pressed her jagged teeth on Conscience's shoulders that made her twirl in pain.
"They were so benevolent and caring to me! How can they be demons?" I felt cheated, my legs gave way and I stumbled. But the next moment, mustering up courage, I ran towards them screaming, "Stop!" Seeing me they were stunned. They sneaked a peek at each other, and Ego initiated, "She's instigating you against us."
"Stop! I don't want to hear anything. Leave us alone. I saw your true..."
Greed interrupted, "But she's trying to distract you..…"
Together they mumbled, "She's to change…"
"I said leave… and… never try to come back again. I'm happy with her and I don't want two-faced companions like you. "
They started with their long faces. But they didn't leave, standing on my threshold, they waited that I'd look at them, I'd call them back, I'd hug them. They waited.
Without looking at them, I wrapped my arms around Conscience's knackered body, "I'm very sorry, darling! I'll never leave you now. You're my best friend…..and mentor…..and shield..…and having you by my side, I don't need anybody else. Today, I understood what I craved for..… Why there's a vacuum in my heart. Why after getting so much in life I was feeling incomplete…because you're not there….I can't be happy without you…..this world is immaterial if you're not with me. You're my everything…..You're my soul mate. Today, the vacuum within me is filled….Let's escape this hollowness…this shallowness of life… Let's leave all this…And I cuddled her tightly so that nobody could ever take her away from me. And we wept cuddling each other till I was relieved…..till the remorse in my heart melted away…till I felt Complete."