The Man in The Mirror
A soothing melody was drifting through the busy atmosphere, and it seemed to be coming from the ballroom. The lawn was brimming with people, who had arrived by the dozen, dressed to the nines with suits that were supposed to be discarded after the night was past. The gleaming moon contributed as a natural disco ball, and provided an unerring, ultraprecise amount of lighting to the lawn that held the main event. Greetings were offered out along the macadam path; the fairy lights and fairy lamps added a surplusage of color to the march of footsteps. A congregation of pianoists, harp players, and violinists was quartered at the far end of the lawn. It was all going buttery smooth until, on the spur of the moment, Mikael’s phone started ringing in his august leather jacket’s pocket. He pulled it out and tried to apprehend what was on the screen.
“Baba” it read.
He stood placidly for a moment, feeling the alternations in the music and the tales it entailed, whilst also keeping his eyes on the screen. And as the music came to a brief pause, he silenced the call with a notion of indifference, and placed the phone back to its place.
Mikael had been nurtured in a well-off family – he was the Jackson’s only son. Mikael’s mother left him when he was two. He was brought up by his father Joseph, with all the bells and whistles you could ever think of. They lived in a large, grandiose villa in Gary, Indiana. Mikael had been getting everything that came out of his mouth ever since his childhood. You name it, he had it: a gimmicky car, a branded flagship watch, a gargantuanly spacious house, and whatnot.
He spent his days drifting off to relaxation on his ever-so cozy couch, watching T.V., and his nights partying out with his networks. Not to mention that he had fairly expansive social circles. Also, he had his own ways, his own rules. He didn’t like to be dictated. He was spendthrift. He outfitted sophisticatedly. He had his own charm. He could say it with his looks, and thus he was fairly less talkative. He deemed of himself as the star of the show, wherever he went. As an aftermath of all this, he didn’t want people to be very affable, for it saved him the need of liking them a great deal. He took everything he had for granted. Not even once in his lifetime, had he pondered upon the purpose of his creation, and never had he asked unto himself questions of the like of “Why am I here?” and “What was the reason I was cast into existence?”
His father was, nonetheless, an outstandingly sympathetic human being. He was big-hearted in essence, and he infrequently spent celestial sums of the riches that he owned to his fortune into numerous charitable causes. Only last month had he given away a hefty sum to the Heal the World Foundation. But Mikaeel was far off from this. The word “Open-handed” had not even remotely come close to his temperament. He used to devote enormous amounts of his father’s wealth in the way of his interminable craving for the ephemeral world.
Back at the party, exchanges of gifts were being made – a bottle of perfume-soaked Jasmines in return for a bowl of trifles, for instance – which would be lost to the eagle-eyed cadgers of the party. Mikael looked at his Swatch Skinoutono and realized that it was time to leave.
He got out and seated himself on his Ford RS200. The weather outside was cruelly cold, and the night sky was pitch black. Mikael loved this color. This was the color he was dressed up in. So was this the color of his Ford. He turned the heater on and turned up the heat, swiftly driving past the solitary roads. It was 3am in the morning. He parked his car near his favorite inn: Baymont by Wyndham. Mikael skimmed the entire place for an out-of-the-way perfect spot, from where he could lonelily observe with delight, the dark, cold night. Finally, he found what he wanted. Only that he was not alone.
Two gleaming, childish eyes were staring quietly from the outside of the inn. Moonlight penetrated through the bitter-cold glass wall, and entered the lukewarm and snug inside of the inn. There were blemishes of two frail hands pressed against the subzero glass – stifled due to the shaky hands – as were the voices that could be dimly heard outside. The four-year-old looked as though he had not had a nourishing meal for years. His skin as reedy as paper – hung to his shabby bones, his clothes closely non-existent, his feet entirely bare, and his head divulged to the beastly cold weather. But there was something about his eyes – they were incandescent – as if there was a ferocious fire blazing behind them.
Inside the inn, Mikael was hurriedly flicking through the menu, in pursuit of finding the right mix of scrumptious ingredients to feast his taste buds.
“Shall I have your order, please?” requested the waiter, who had appeared before him.
“I’ll tell you in a short while,” said Mikael, firmly.
As he began lowering his head, his eyes suddenly caught attention. For a fraction of a second, a slight chill went down his spine.
Two worlds met head-on.
And then with a wave of unimportance, he glanced back. Promptly, there came an inspiration to him and he let out a profound cry: “Waiter?”
There came rushing the usher in account to his demand.
“What would you like, sir?” interrogated the waiter.
“One small bowl of Tater tots, Jambalaya for one, and a Banana split, please.” said Mikael.
“Alright Si – “ he was intermitted, all of a sudden, by a phone call. Mikael’s phone call. He reached out his hand inside his pocket, and held his phone upfront and tried to read out the name in a low, fainted tone. “Baba” it read. He silenced the phone and put it back in his pocket – his august leather jacket’s pocket. His kinky, clear black hair moved a slight bit as he abruptly looked up to the waiter.
“You have my order. Now go!” he said impatiently.
As the waiter fetched his order, he peeked his head towards the glass-wall. This was not out of compassion, but the yearning had emerged out of absolute curiosity. To his astonishment, he saw that there was no one there. He could only see the now-blurred blotches of two weak, infant hands. The marks that the angelic presence had left were now, slowly but surely, dissolving into obliviousness.
The tender caress of the moonlight was trying hard to relieve the remains of the lost soul’s remnants. But the brutal cold, most certainly, had the upper hand. So, the former was overwhelmed by the latter. But for how long? Does dawn not crack after pitch obscure nights? Isn’t there , always, light at the end of the tunnel? Doesn’t every dark cloud have a silver lining?
Fate was soon about to divulge and untie its perplexing mysteries.
The door of the inn promptly swung open outside. Out came Mikael, all dressed in black. The severe, murky, and cold night seemed synonymous to Mikael himself. It was difficult to tell them apart. He seated himself on his Black Ford. All of a sudden, it started to rain. Heavily. Mikaeel turned on the wipers, and the rain drops that hit the windshield steadily, were thrusted away with downright fury. The car drove past the town into the forest.
Mikael turned up the speed, and the car slithered agilely across the countryside, piercing through the tiny, delicate raindrops. Mikael turned on the radio. The undisputed ‘Greatest Entertainer of All-time’ – and the unanimously agreed-upon ‘King of Pop’ – Michael Jackson was airing live. “Man in the Mirror” was the song.
Mikael increased the volume.
“As I turn up the collar on
My favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind”
Mikael’s attention became monomaniac now. For he realized he was wearing his favorite winter coat, too.
“I see the kids in the streets,
With not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs”
Mikaeel turned up the volume a bit more.
“I’ve been a victim of
A selfish kind of love
It’s time that I realize
That there are some with no home,
Not a nickel to loan
Could it be, really me,
Pretending that they’re not alone?”
Mikael tried to turn up the dial, but it was at max.
“A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart
And a washed-out dream
They follow the pattern of the wind, you see
‘Cause they got no place to be
That’s why I’m starting with me
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways”
A tear trundled down his cheek and fell on his elegant, black leather jacket.
He looked down – and abruptly lost control. His car hit a tree trunk, with a loud thump.
Everything was distorting out of his sight. He had not been this close to such a desolation his entire life. Veils were being unveiled. With his hands drenched with his own blood, he reached out into his pocket, and pulled his phone out. He pressed two, three, two, three. And pushed the green button.
The word “Baba” faded smoothly into the screen.
He felt like it was the heftiest thing in the world. In the mere blink of an eye, someone picked up the phone. There was a child’s voice on the other side. “Yes?” it asked delicately. “It’s Mikael. Is Baba home?” inquired Mikael, in a shuddering voice. “Yes, but he’s not here with me.” was the reply. “Listen, it’s an emergency. When you meet Baba the next time,” went Mikael. “Tell him that I love him.”
“Okay, Mikael.” said the kid. The call ended.
A few moments later an old man appeared in the room. “Who was it?” he asked. “It was Mikael. He said he loves you.” said the kid.
“I love you too my sweet son,” said the old father. “But we haven’t connected the telephone yet, Mikael. We have just moved in to our new home.” he smiled, showing the unconnected end of the telephone wire.
Contributed by: Syed Haseeb Bin Hafeez