Little Nur, standing before the mirror, wove her mystery. On many occasions I’d find her there, in that same sacred spot of hers, feeling her lips, or picking on hair strands. Her reflection would glare back with a dull expression etched on her face. It seemed to me that the cause of her approach was in search of answers – answers to questions that shouldn’t have been familiar to a six-year-old. In spite of her countless encounters with the mirror, she insisted on looking at herself every single day. Over and over and over again.
My six-year-old sister, whose lively spirit I adore more than anything else, whose shameless inquisitiveness I’ve learned to inherit, whose glee and merriment supplied my sombreness with color, despised her physical appearance. At the thought of this, I can’t help but feel a fever of guilt boring into my bones. Have I failed my little sister? How’d I allow this beast of burden lurk in the nooks of her imagination? This very notion, this stubborn remorse, birthed a plea for help: what would you do if your six-year-old sister dislikes her appearance?
I was deeply engrossed in contemplation, trying to recall when Nur had first initiated this unusual behaviour – poking her stomach, hiding my makeup in the drawers of her plastic playset, even attempting to cut her hair. How could a young girl her age develop such habits? And how could I possibly lure her out of the rhythm of self-loathe she had created?
“I want peachy nice skin like yours, why is mine chocolatey?” she would demand.
A strange pang pierced my heart. Nur uttered those words with such immense sorrow, and I could tell how desperate she was. I could tell how much she longed for a different looking body.
How could I possibly tell her that you still have the whole universe for you to explore? That I’d like to take you places much bigger than your little existence. That Nur, you are a book, and your pages read poetry. That I’ve seen the most beautiful flowers bloom in your presence. That your “chocolatey” color is of the earth, and that you anchor empires into place. That I’d like to wrap up resilience and gift it to you. Nur, watching you grow alongside doubt is like witnessing the unfolding of a flower that trembles before the breeze, and opens its heart upon the arrival of light.
The truth of the matter is, it was never about the color of your skin, Nur, nor the stubborn curls you wear. Your beauty cannot be bound by the quill of a poet and your grace cannot be defined by the chisel of a sculptor. Your skin’s intimacy with the sun is a passionate bond, for the hues of spring choose to settle on your cheeks. The bittersweet truth is that your questions will not be answered when you look at the mirror, Nur. Whether you choose to take on the path of self-exploration at a young age, or find yourself in this cycle of distress, I will hold on to you.
Despite the lack of answers, Nur persisted. Standing before the mirror, Nur still weaves her mystery. But isn’t questioning oneself a part of the journey? Mustn’t a flower tremble before the wind for it to withstand a storm? Isn’t self-doubt the key to unlocking the realms of self-discovery?
The author of this piece has requested to remain anonymous.