“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?” The Queen stood before the mirror and asked as usual. The response was also the usual one: “My Queen, you are the fairest one of all.”
The Queen was never tired of this exercise which went on ad infinitum, ad nauseam. But the nausea was mine. Only mine. The Queen, like most people, relished the flattery mistaking it for truth.
“You accuse me wrongly,” complained the Mirror. No, it was not a complaint really. I took it as a complaint because I, like most people, judge others according to my own nature. I have a tendency to complain and so I think others also are like that. But the Mirror is not like me. It merely makes statements and not opinions stained by emotions. It tells the truth, in simple words. I don’t tell too many truths, like most people. But unlike most people, I can’t flatter. When I see something unfair or unjust I am tempted to point it out though I, like most people, learnt that it was wise not to tell unpleasant truths. We can’t always go by the teachings. Our very nature rebels against the teachings. That’s why I pointed out my nausea to the Mirror. I told her that I was sick of her flattery of the Queen.
“Of all the people I have seen,” said the Mirror, “the Queen is the fairest. That’s the truth.”
It’s then I realised that the Mirror had actually not seen many people. Who are the people that ever enter the Queen’s chamber? The King. The maids. And occasionally I, the Queen’s Secretary. People call me all sorts of names. For some, I am the Queen’s Spy. Bootlicker, for some. Killer, for a few. That’s how the world is: they give you unfair names. I’m merely a Secret-ary. The treasurer of secrets.
“You haven’t seen Snow White.” I tried to make a statement like the Mirror.
“Who is Snow White?”
I explained to her who Snow White was and why the Mirror would never have a chance to meet her.
“I would like to meet her,” said the Mirror. “Just for a change.” How long will one go on meeting the same faces? Faces!
As the Secret-ary of the Queen, I was in a position to take some liberties in the Palace. Without other people’s knowledge, of course. When other people are left out of certain knowledge, they call you Spy or Bootlicker or even Killer. But I wanted the Mirror to know at least one truth. If you don’t meet many people, your truths are highly limited. That’s why I decided to place Snow White before the Mirror.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?” The Queen repeated her flattering exercise as usual.
"My queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White who is beyond my purview is a thousand times more beautiful than you," answered the Mirror.
I saw the Queen turn red. I saw the Queen go mad. I saw the Queen dwindle in dimensions.
She, the Queen, my Mistress, picked up the gold flower vase which contained the latest gifts of whitest lilies from her husband the King and flung it at the Mirror.
The Mirror shattered to smithereens.
One of my dreams shattered into smithereens.
I learnt one more lesson. How expensive is truth!
I learnt another lesson. How expensive is fairness!
Life is expensive. Is the Mirror lucky that it is dead?
Am I unlucky that I am alive? What do these lessons matter if you have to go on learning them endlessly and pay with the life of your friend in the process?
“I’m sorry.” I whispered to the fragments of the Mirror as I gathered them and stored them in the heart of my heart.