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08 February 2010

The Talking Mirror

It was just another routine night shift (or so I thought). Once the shutters were downed past ten, I emptied the cash registers and went up to the back office. The thick wads of cash, vouchers and credit slips need to be carefully counted, fed into the system and then a handful of complex reports are prepared which are obviously out of comprehension for salesmen like me. I have Sharma, the security man, for company, who like me also loves the night closing shift, for his own personal reasons. Here he is happily sharing his “RS” and masala peanuts with me – Sharma the generous.

An hour later, Sharma is asleep in the office chair, holding his old rifle like a child holds on to a furry animal in sleep. I too, under a tipsy impulse, put the system on auto-pilot and head for the changing room settees; it’s time to catch a wink. Little did I know what would happen next.

“Hey you….(pause)…. yes you! Got a minute?” comes an unfamiliar voice from the adjacent changing room. I raise my spinning head in alarm, and find the courage to see for myself who this intruder is, “Perhaps I should wake up Sharma!” I think to myself.

“Listen you salesman, tell your manager I don’t wanna work for your store anymore” yells the furious voice as I open the cubicle, bewilderingly to find no one inside the dark room.

“It’s me, the mirror, you idiot. I’m tired of them expecting me to make them look more attractive - these shoppers! They stare into me with desperate eyes begging me to make them look sexier, thinner, taller and what not.. As if I can perform some miracle.. I can reflect, not transform. Even your manager approaches me in his eager stance, blaming me for the dropping store sales figures”

I try to hold back from commenting, but the alcohol in my blood puts up a resistance to my resolute.

“Stop cribbing, will you! There are pros and cons to every job in this world. Put yourself in my shoes, travelling for hours on the Delhi Metro, in its crowded compartments, having oily scalps rubbed on your face every evening, and just praying that the guy standing next to you hasn’t had a heavy meal. Try to look at the bright side. You’re one lucky bastard I tell you. Here in the air-conditioned room all day, and all those gorgeous ladies coming in to change… You! You get to see them!” I revert overpoweringly.

The irate voice recesses for a moment, and responds with a heavy sigh “Oh, for god sake! Fine.. once in a while it’s fun, and quite honestly it does keep me motivated, but there is a limit to how much obscenity one can take. Recently I’ve had some rather wild couples high on hormones, locking themselves in, and engaging in acts forbidden in the sanctity of this humble premise… I’m sure you’re aware of such unprofitable punters, and those too, who come to click themselves in different attires with a mobile phone without making a single purchase”

“So keep moaning you moron, or just bend yourself to the ways of the world, there are some things you can’t change, not even if you wanted to! Goodnight!” I bang shut the door on the mirror’s face, having had enough of his complaining, and leave for the office. He’s deprived me of my sleep and drained the happy rush of alcohol from my brain.

On a busy weekend afternoon, sometime in the next week, the mirror was found shattered beyond use. A customer bore the cost of the mirror, which he broke Accidently.