Children

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

The worst thing is to be forced to sit at home. That too, for a whole year. That too, without seeing your friends. That too, wearing a mask and always washing your hands. That too, that too. Believe me, it was getting on my nerves.

Sitting at home is one thing. Being forced to do that is quite another! And then it happened.

Honestly. None of it is a lie or make-believe. It really happened. And that’s what made the year special.

You can’t even stay home in peace!

My sister Tara and I were talking to our cousins in Kerala through our phones. Defying the Great Pandemic, they’d left home and were walking down the streets of Mattancherry, which is in Kochi where they live. Mattancherry is a quaint little place with quaint little shops selling quaint little things.

It was an adventure just to sit in our house and watch our cousins roaming the streets. While everyone else was masked, the twins Raju and Saju were happily going around with only silly grins on their faces. They soon walked into a shop selling antiques. Saju’s phone showed us everything. Nothing was less than a 100 years old! Grandfather clocks, fearful masks, carved swords and lamps, cupboards and chairs, old paintings, chess-boards, gramophones ... what a treasure-house! Giggling softly, Raju pointed to the owner, an old man snoring behind the counter. Because of the Great Pandemic, there were no other customers; only crazy Raju-Saju!

They came up to a mirror standing in a dark corner. It was long and with a carved, golden frame, now peeling with age.Saju pointed his phone at a cardboard piece resting against it. Printed in thick black letters were the words: “Warning! Danger! Please ask Owner to explain in detail. DON’T Touch! It could harm you and others!” I guessed what would happen next. The twins have a strange habit: Warnings made them curious! We saw them reflected in the mirror, stretching out their hands. And they both touched the mirror!

Poof!

Tara and I still don’t know what really happened. The last thing we saw was the twins disappearing into the mirror, as if it was a sheet of water. And then Tara and I were hit by a strong force like a wave in the sea. We blacked out. When we opened our eyes, it seemed to be after ages. We were both standing in the shop we’d just seen in our phones: the antique shop in Mattancherry!

And the twins had disappeared.

As we stood looking blankly at each other, there was a shout and the sleeping owner leapt up and charged at us. He was a small old man with a big old temper. We ran! We scooted from the shop with him chasing and yelling. Soon, other people joined the old man. Imagine the scene. Two innocent kids from another city being chased for no fault of theirs by people in masks led by a ferocious old man!

Down the streets of Mattancherry we ran. Nothing was familiar. We didn’t know where we were, and where we were going! All we knew was the shouting behind us, the old man and his growing gang of chasers! Where were the twins? How did they vanish after getting us into this mess?

“There’s the Synagogue! Let’s run inside! Remember Uncle took us last time.”

“What if it’s closed when we reach there?” asked Tara. “Let’s jump into a café!”

So that’s what we did. Quickly, before the mob could spot us, we jumped inside one of those quaint little cafés. Inside, all was quiet, dark and cosy. Panting heavily, we plonked ourselves at one of the tables.

It took quite a while for our eyes to get used to the dimness. To our surprise, there was someone seated there already. To our even greater surprise, it was a very familiar someone. We peered and squinted at him to make sure. We took off our masks at the same time.

“Uncle!” we screamed.

“You both!” he screamed back. “How did you get here?” He stared as if we were some fantastic creatures and not his sister’s children. “I just got a call from Raju and Saju. They said they were not in Mattancherry any longer. They said I might run into you both instead! What on earth is happening?”

“Oh, Uncle, where are they?”

“It’s the strangest thing! They must be joking, of course.”

“What did they SAY?”

“They are in your house in Chennai!” His eyes bulged. “How is that possible?”

“It is possible,” said Tara. “Long story. Order us something to eat and we’ll tell you. Just promise us one thing, Uncle.”

“What?”

“Never touch a strange mirror. You might put other people in danger!”


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 1:37:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/article34532022.ece

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