The characters here just represent certain forces in the world. The story does not run in a linear fashion. There are several such stories happening simultaneously, leaving impressions on each other. One evolves into another, in a non-linear fashion.
They know that they are not rivals or opponents. The gender is incidental. One could visualize either a male or female in that version. The ‘beauty’ of a female, is equivalent to the ‘privilege’ that certain people enjoy, irrespective of gender.
The author is only a narrator, who stands by and watches several stories unfold.
It is beautiful out here. The sun smiles on my courtyard in the morning, and blesses my being with its golden beams. I work through the day, but just enough to keep my skin glowing and body beautiful. Exhaustion and stress can accelerate ageing, and the Goddess of Eternal Youth always needs to look beautiful.
I am an icon. I am worshipped by millions. I am also supported by the powerful. It satisfies their measly egos and imperfect bodies, to have the privilege of spending some time with me. But the power that I hold is enormous and effective. Many bow down to me, only for the power of my connections. Some of those are imagined, but it works well for me.
How long will it all last? Only the beginning of the next phase can determine the end of the first one.
I know I have lost the battle. I would not have lost it, if it was not for her. On second thoughts, there would have been no battle, if it was not for her. What makes her so enviably perfect? Is there a chink in the armor somewhere?
Maybe, there is, but it is too late for me. I have been junked and ridiculed for my imperfections, by the people whom I did not consider perfect either, but was raised to love and respect. They are my kinfolk, members of my matrimonial home and the superiors in the workplace. Each one has an imagined idol of perfection, and each one of them expects me to mould myself to fit. Why me?
Am I a lesser being, to invite their condemnation? Or is my position elevated with approving glances from them? Time will tell …..
I am known to be a firebrand feminist, but I do not know how I reached here. I had no desire, no ambition to be here in this uncomfortable place. It is just that I have a strong sense of self, and I do not identify myself with my gender, the color of my skin or hair, a pedigree, the branding of a premiere institution or whatever fad they choose to differentiate between people. It is always ‘me’ and ‘they’, never ‘we’. I am just cut out to be different, to not think like others do. I consider myself privileged, because I found my true self, in absence of those fancy trappings.
I fought back tooth and nail, to counter every move aimed at denigrating me. I just had to. It was a matter of survival. I was only protecting my existence. I hear loud voices – “to exist, one only has to conform.” Why do they try to project their sense of inadequacy on me? Do they feel threatened? I am willing to help them, if they need it. I have the power to do so.
I met one of those ‘perfect women’ today. Her isolated existence was gradually turning into incarceration. The powerful did not always recognize her. She represented their weakest self, their inadequacy, their misconceptions of manhood, and she had to be ostracized. They had emptied out their miserable selves on her. The sins were growing on her body and psyche.
I looked up, and saw that she is not as beautiful as I had imagined her to be. A few scars were visible, and many others concealed with an effort. But there were inner demons gnawing at her existence, and she was seeking a release.
Could I help her? I am seen as the stronger individual. But am I? Am I stronger than Mandakini?
My existence is not relative to any other human being or object. I am not owned by the will of another. I do not live as the ‘honor’ of another human or God. I am not ‘tainted’ by the choices I make. I just achieve the state of being my highest possible self.