Immodesty apart, I can surely say that my mother is an extraordinarily pretty woman. She too, like most women, stands guilty as charged for spending way too much of her time with her soulmate - yes, the mirror.
My father often cribs when she spends hours caressing her long tresses or smearing pancake on her face in front of the mirror. Twenty-five years into their marriage, I guess they have signed a peace treaty where my father keeps my mother in the loop when it comes to social evenings, musical soirees, theatrical events or official dinners, well in advance.
But, women will be women. Mamma cares two hoots for what hubby has to say. So till date, before leaving for any event, right at the last moment, she troops to the mirror with calibrated precision to straighten the pleats of her nine-yard crimson Benarasi or dust her cheeks with more rouge. Men can go to hell! At the end of it all, she is dressed to kill, blinking her kohl-rimmed eyes, saying, "I'm ready, let's go, honey!"
Being an economist, I always fall back on data. Going by statistics, the average woman spends an hour a day in front of the mirror. That is roughly two weeks a year!
The earliest evidence of the use of mirrors goes back to 600BC in Greece. The earliest form of a mirror was water or any other liquid in a container for one to see his or her reflection. The galvanised mirror entered the scene much later when German chemist Justus Liebig invented it in 1835. The mirror, other than the diamond, has perhaps been every woman's best friend from time immemorial.
Literature too has emphasised the significance of the mirror in a woman's life. Remember Snow White, the fairy tale in which every morning, the wicked queen talks to her magic mirror? "Magic mirror in my hand who is the fairest in the land?" The mirror promptly replies, "My queen, you are the fairest in the land."
From four-year-old girls to 90-year-old grandmas, all leisurely look into the mirror before stepping out of the house. I secretly like to believe that women even talk and engage in fascinating tête-à-têtes with their mirrors or rather their doppelganger, asking questions and seeking answers in perception of their own beauty.
The misanthropist in me often wonders, if only our eyes saw the soul instead of physical beauty.
How very different our ideals of beauty would be. Like my mother always says, it is inner beauty that does not need any make-up. How true! The best part of beauty is that which no image can reveal, an enigma. The world is our mirror because glass mirrors can lie at times.
As celebrated Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran once said, "Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."