Pale Shadows

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There's a secret that he keeps within. It is the strength derived from the secret that makes him go on. It isn't a facade that makes him smile as he lines up the groundnuts before his shop. He is genuinely happy for himself.

His lips are moving to nobody in particular. One might assume he's talking to himself but there's no talk either. He's laughing under his breath. His lips are quivering as breath escapes him in short bursts.

Why do we assume that a man wearing a muddy rag, squatting on the side of the road, spreading groundnuts on his towel, not more than five kilos of them, would be sad with the state of his life? I found it hard to look at him when I approached him from a distance as I sweated profusely under the hot sun.

It was only until I actually faced him that I noticed that his eyes were shining. And disturbingly, it perplexed me to no end. I walked on and turned back twice to see if something was amiss. But he was happy throughout the five minutes of my brief witness of him.

Admittedly, I've never been so happy with the way things are. Whichever way I look at myself, I am not satisfied. But that man took a hammer to the wall and brought it down. I'm facing a room full of mirrors that reflect different versions of me.

All of my reflections come from several points in time. They're waiting. Blinking in tandem. What does it take for me to realize what's worth being happy, they mean to ask. But I'm still stupefied, looking at that man on the road laughing at me.

Somewhere in the room of mirrors is the correct part of me that I would approve to be the fittest to be joyous for. But why do I need a room of mirrors at all? What is wrong with the present version of me? And why is that man still laughing!

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