I think was almost eight when I finally admitted to myself and came to terms with the fact that I didn’t have a twin sister. Till then, I did; and I was the only one who knew her. We went to the same school, sat side by side on the same wooden bench; and because the teachers couldn’t see her, we could get away by sharing only one set of homework. We always wore identical clothes; sometimes with a minute difference – like, while my delicate lace dress sported a beautiful pink rose on the left shoulder, hers was on the right. And I would jump up and down with glee in front of the mirror, cleverly pointing out the difference to her and delightedly discuss with her how impossible it was otherwise for anyone to tell us apart.
I would run to her when things would go wrong; and her eyes would water with mine; a silly joke, and she would throw back her head and chuckle just like I did; only, her upper right tooth was missing, while I had lost my upper left. But then, I didn’t need the mirror to feel her presence. She travelled in the car with me; she went on holidays with me and my – our – parents; and shared my Barbie blanket every night, hugging the same soft pink teddy bear. I guess I knew somewhere deep down that she wasn’t for real, considering I never told anyone about her and never insisted that my parents buy four tickets for the movies. But she gave me so much comfort that I wasn’t ready to give her up anyway. If I thought I heard someone whispering under the bed at night, I would close my eyes tight and hold her – my – hand till the whispers stopped. And, I was never lonely; I wasn’t even familiar with the concept of boredom; which is a big thing to say for an only child who didn’t have too many friends either. I would spend hours playing with her and talking to her, often in crowded places as well, without moving my lips. I never got tired of making up both sides of the conversation, putting words and jokes in her mouth. I would see siblings in school and the park and I would say to her the same things they said to each other, behave the same way. So, understandably, there would be disagreements and arguments too; we would fight (during the course of which I would go to the extent of pulling my own hair!) and not talk for days. But I would always make up with her, for the simple reason that she was I, and no matter what you do, you can’t stay angry with yourself for ever.
I don’t remember the exact day when I started seeing myself rather than her when I stood in front of the mirror; and when I finally ran out of things to say to her. But even after all these years, I can’t help smiling as I think of her – just a shadow of a little girl’s imagination, but so real all the same. And I often find myself wishing that we still shared the kind of relationship in which I could hold her hand when I am scared, and everything would be alright; and when all I needed to do to beat my loneliness would be to face the mirror.
This was my winning entry for this contest: http://manjulikapramod.com/2013/08/04/wise-enough-to-be-foolish-is-it/