Adra woke up in a strange room with the sounds of doctors and nurses at the far end discussing something. The air was stuffy, and the clean white walls appeared to be sweating. As she lay on a bed, she did not know where she was. She could barely move her head. Only her eyes moved and she looked through the window to glimpse the world outside. The view revealed a large, old cemetery at the far end. Where was she? Was it Riyadh? She wondered. She could hear the physicians and nurses conversing in Arabic about her recent surgery.
She turned herself in their direction to catch their words but then asked-“Why is my head aching? What happened to me?”
“Something bad happened to you,” said one of them.
“You had met with an accident and rushed by an air ambulance to our hospital six months ago. You were unconscious almost the entire time and when you regained consciousness, you remembered nothing.” He went on to say.
“Can you tell me about my treatment?”Adra asked nervously, adding, “Did you operate my head?”
“Yes,” said the doctor. “We implanted a chip there in an attempt to get your memory back.”
Adra expressed an instant desire to see her face and hair and requested a mirror. She wanted to make sure her face looked as pretty as it had in the past.
A full-length mirror came promptly. They put it opposite her bed, allowing her to see herself without having to get out of bed.
As she looked, a beam of sunlight entered through the window and hit the mirror. Something sparkling in the mirror caught her eye. She looked intently, focusing on the gleaming object, and saw a gold headband. Was she wearing a gold headband she wondered, and moved her hand on her head. No, there was no band there! But she could still see it on her head in the mirror. “That’s so strange,” she exclaimed to herself.
She closed her eyes and then reopened them, convinced that she had imagined it.
Adra looked again at her reflection in the mirror. The reflection stared back.
She sat up in her bed. The reflection did the same.
She shifted a little closer to the mirror. The reflection did the same.
She moved back a little. The reflection did the same.
She turned her head slowly. The reflection did the same.
She turned her head back. The reflection did the same. It was her!
As if to reconfirm, she again moved her hand over her head. There was no band there! But she could see her reflection in the mirror wearing one.
She moved to the bed's edge, getting closer to the mirror in an attempt to narrow the field of focus.
Adra looked again. Same eyes, lips, and blemishes. But she saw that her reflection in the mirror warped as she zoomed in on one of her blemishes. She gazed, horrified, her enormous eyes bulging out. Her suppleness and tightness fading from her youthful face. Around the eyes, fine lines appeared.
Startled, Adra moved her fingers over her face to find those lines. There were no such lines. Her face felt soft as always. She moved her fingers around her eyes. The reflection followed Adra’s every move, yet the golden headband stayed on the reflection’s head while it was missing from Adra’s. The fine wrinkle lines remained on the reflection’s face and were not present on Adra’s.
Adra turned her head away from the mirror to look outside the window as if she wanted to break free from her significantly older reflection. But her mind was racing. “Was it her in a parallel universe?” She bit her lower lip hard to convince herself that she was not dreaming. A drop of blood oozed out from her lips and dropped on the white cotton sheet that covered her fully.
Now, curious to check if there was blood on her reflection, Adra forced herself to look again in the mirror. The reflection stared back with the same intensity.
Strangely, Adra saw that the daytime view in the mirror had transformed to a night scene this time. And instead of the clean white walls she had behind her, her reflection had a vast space behind her. The darkness was illuminated by oil lamps burning at a distance.
She realized, mystified, that every time she looked in the mirror, some more changes happened with her reflection. “Was it her in a different timezone?” She wondered.
Adra was eager to spot the blood spot in the mirror. She looked up and down at her reflection. This time, her reflection in the mirror was wearing a completely different outfit than her.
A lovely saree in a golden hue (A nine-yard dress cloth that women wrap around them as an attire). Embellished with gold embroidery, it was shining in the dark. And she noticed that her much older version in the mirror was walking towards her.
“Stop there. Any instant you will pop out from the mirror.” She screamed. The sound from a distant conch drowned out her words. The sound was phenomenal. It was like the sound that announces the conclusion of a war in classic historical films. She wondered where a conch was blowing on the Riyadh premises. It was not possible. She reasoned it had to be coming from the mirror.
Perplexed, she closed her eyes and prayed with folded hands.
When Adra looked in the mirror again, she noticed that her reflection was walking over dead bodies. Blood gushed from the headless bodies of many dead men, soaking the lower part of her saree with blood, but she didn’t stop; she continued advancing. A few men behind her stood discussing the war’s end.
The events unfolding in front of her frightened Adra. Certain her reflection was a version of herself from a parallel universe, she concluded that the two universes had connected. A parallel universe with a different time zone existed, and the mirror acted as the medium.
She forced herself to look again in the mirror. She saw her reflection kneeling over the dead, looking for something, turning each one in search of someone beloved. Outside the mirror, Adra could smell the stench of the dead. “Was this for real?” Adra wondered. Sounds and smells were reaching her. As she focussed more, she felt the blood from slain bodies gushing in her direction. Any instance, it could spring out from the mirror.
“Stop!” shouted Adra. “Stop!” she screamed again and again until her throat became dry. “Please stop,” she muttered, barely audible. Hearing her screams, a team of physicians and nurses stormed into her room. One nurse grabbed her by the hand and saved her from falling off the bed before she fainted.
Adra woke up with the sounds of two nurses conversing. The air was stuffy, and the clean white walls appeared to be sweating. She gazed around from where she lay on her bed as she opened her eyes. The two nurses stood next to each side of her bed as if guarding her. She looked on the opposite end, where the mirror stood.
The mirror was not there.
“Was she dreaming it all?” She gasped for breath as the thought hit her. The cut in her lower lip had swollen and pained. “Did she bite herself while dreaming? Were all the horrifying incidents she'd witnessed a part of a seemingly never-ending nightmare?” She went stiff with fear. The nurses, detecting her discomfort, administered her a sleeping shot.
The nurses remained standing and conversing long after Adra had fallen asleep.
The first nurse was describing the situation to the second. “It was a weird scene to witness Adra shouting and pointing to the mirror, her voice raspy.
I was the first to grab her firmly to prevent her from falling off the bed before she fainted.”
“Is that when you guys removed the mirror?” asked the second one.
“Yes”-replied the first nurse. After such a major brain surgery, the doctor needed her to avoid anything that leads to tense moments.
Somewhere between Heaven and hell, the Supreme was smiling. The first vision, which showed Adra’s past existence, was accomplished. The great family war, Mahabharata, had ended with the demise of her son. She had looked for his body among the many dead but wasn’t successful. One fine day after reaching Heaven she had drifted to earth again in search of her son. But, as they say, memories of former lives fade when one returns to the earth; Adra, too, had forgotten she was once Subhadra.“Soon she will,” thought the Supreme.
He will then show her the ultimate path. Because if he will not intervene, the desire to find her son will force her to many cycles of births, delaying liberation for her and her clan.