Sunlight danced on the round crooked mirror hung from a huge Banyan tree which swayed with the breeze. It flashed a silver light on everyone who passed it. It was particularly irritating for the barber who was trying to fix his customer’s hair beneath the cool shade of the tree. It was probably the best barber’s shop of that small village near the canal. But it was on object of desire for that little 10-year-old who thought it emitted light.
Rani was 10 but knew much more than any girl of her age. She loved to dress in all colors bright and oozed with love and innocence. She ran to her mother who was blowing into a small pipe to light the chulah and demanded that useless mirror. The fascination attached to the mirror was limitless. Rani’s mother shooed her away and told her to do her homework. Sad and feeling dejected momentarily, she ran to her elder sister Jyoti.
Jyoti was a plain-looking high school student. She was average in studies and average in almost everything she did at her school or house. It bothered her mother but she remained oblivious to such hints and remarks. Her aristocratic nose built an aura of seriousness around her which prevented her from making friends easily. Her life was centered on her bubbly baby sister Rani who was everything she wasn’t.
Jyoti tried to reason with Rani and explained to her the reason behind the light emitting mirror. The sheer craving for something as magical as that mirror did not allow Rani to relent. Jyoti knew she couldn’t afford anything and her heart died a little inside when she saw her sister crying for something as small as that broken mirror. Instances like these made her question God and his ability to provide equally for everyone.
The family sat down for dinner on the damp earth in the open space at the centre of their house. Their father was a poor farmer who worked day and night to provide two square meals to his family. Rani was still sulking for that mirror when his dad asked her lovingly the reason behind his princess’ bad mood. Rani narrated to him the story with a shine in her eyes and hope of a bright future with some silver light in it.
Her father though very poor, pulled out some coins and placed it on Rani’s palms. Rani screamed with joy and planted a kiss on father’s cheeks. Jyoti smiled content with her sister’s happiness. Their mother complained about lack of discipline due to too much love from their father. She mumbled under her breath and cleared the dishes.
It was 9 in the night. Coins jingled in Rani’s pocket which had been sewed by her mother several times during the last few months. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Anxious and out of breath she went to her sister who was standing on the terrace overlooking the huge Banyan tree.
“Can’t we go and buy that mirror now? Please, please, please, please?” pleaded Rani.
“Don’t act silly. Who is going to be there at this time of the night to give you that mirror? Besides, we have to request the barber to give us his mirror, it is not for sale for now!” reasoned Jyoti.
“I can’t wait. I can try at least! If you want to come then you can come with me otherwise I am going right now. Alone!” said Rani.
She ran down the stairs leaving Jyoti behind who got worried and ran after her sister. Jyoti chased Rani and asked her to slow down which she did. As they walked down the narrow alley that led to the open ground where the huge tree stood, they heard some noises. Jyoti immediately smelled something foul. But as she turned around to go back, she saw them walking towards her and Rani.
A group of 4 boys were looking at them which made Jyoti uncomfortable. She tightened her grip around her sister’s hand and ran towards the tree. The boys laughed and followed them. The chase was easy for the boys as they overtook the girls and dragged them to the nearest canal.
One by one they raped the two girls. Their screams were stopped with a cloth in their mouth. They had come prepared searching for a prey. The monsters were intoxicated and out of their sense. One of them suggested killing the girls. Others protested but gave in citing no other options to escape being caught.
One by one the girls who lay whimpering on the ground saw each other’s throat being slit by a sharp knife. The heroic act was not over yet. They wanted drama so they dragged the girls to the open ground and hung them from the tree. They had a good last laugh and went to have a good sleep.
Rani now hung above the small shiny mirror which swayed in the warm night breeze….
The story is loosely based on a recent tragedy which happened in Uttar Pradesh (India).