Amber, Rajastan, India: The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Glass), considered to be one of the world’s best Chambers of Mirrors. Built by King Man Singh Ji in the 16th Century for his queen.
The queen loved the stars by was not allowed to sleep outside at night, so the king directed his architects to create a chamber for her that would mimic the nighttime sky. They say that the light of only two candles will reflect and magnify in this chamber until it is drowning in the light of a thousands stars.
I marvel over the millions of people who must have gazed into those thousands of tiny mirrors since the 16th Century. The mirrors seemed like sirens, peddling their visions to any random passerby. “Come see!” they each beckoned. “Tell us what you see of yourself in me.”
That night, I experienced a vivid dream. The dream spirits exercised their sense of humor with me, in more ways than one. They toyed with my silly vanity. They mocked me and remind me that I still am The Fool who enjoyed the easy path.
The dream opens and I’m standing on a balcony at the Sheesh Mahal. I look through the viewfinder of my camera, trying to focus the lens on the monkeys swinging from tree limb to tree limb. I hear music drifting out of the jungle and stop what I’m doing and look at the scene directly for the first time. It’s organic and now I smell the earth and vegetation. The scene is a breathtaking sight of vivid jungle greens, scarlet flowers, and happy creatures. I never question the incongruity that the Steve Miller Band is singing, The Window, somewhere out there in the jungle among the frolicking animals.
Ask my baby what she wants to be.
She’ll say a monkey swinging in a tree.
Ask my baby what she thinking of,
She’ll say there’s nothing greater than love.
Look through the window.
Tell me what do you see?
A beautiful planet, peace and harmony . . ..
Another person stops for a moment and tells me that it is time to move on. I’m not ready, I think. I remember that I left some personal belongings behind in the hotel room but now it’s too late to retrieve them.
I now go inside to the Chamber of Mirrors for the express purpose to have a look at my face. I feel tired and think, I probably look terrible. However, when I look in the mirror, I see that I look better than I’ve ever looked before. Then something starts happening to me as I gaze in the mirror. In the mirror, I see a tiny white light in the center of my forehead. As I watch the light, it grows brighter until it obliterates my physical face, but I can still see the light is starting to extend down my body, like a sword. When it reaches my feet, it flashes outward until it consumes me.
The following day I leave for Jaipur and discover I have forgotten my magnifying mirror in the hotel in Amber. Now I can no longer look at myself closely or put on my eye makeup. Instead, my attention goes outward where my empathy is put to the test.
copyright © 2013 Martha Fawcett