She stared at the picture for long. Her eyes narrowed as she took in the curves and lines and strokes. Her head tilted from the right to the other, taking in the picture from every angle. Yet, something was amiss.
In front of her eyes stood a work from fifteen years of experience. Around her, in rows that ran to infinity, hung every picture that she had taken over the years. They sang tall tales of glory and of raw beauty. Anyone who had stepped into the cozy little, dark and damp room had never failed to remark how peaceful the place felt like. They told it felt like falling down a black hole filled with wonders.
Colours – bright and dark; people – so innocent and beautiful – the sheets of paper felt like a wonderland of memories. The people trapped in the pictures, spoke for themselves.
Each night, she would sit in the broken, wooden chair and under the light of the red fluorescent bulb, she’d watch her pictures come alive.
Yet, today, she frowned.
It was a bad picture.
Her brows furrowed and she paced.
Beside the tall camera that rested upon the mahogany table, there lay a crumpled paper. Amidst a forest of majestic trees, stood a lonely girl. Her cheeks were sunken. Her eyes were grey. In between her thin lips, slept the lazy butt of a lit cigarette. Perhaps it was the smoke or the haze, but her hair lacked colour. The mascara was smeared. The sick, old, brown hat with its tattered ends clung helplessly to her hair.
Amidst a swirl of vibrant colours, she stood – without a trace of red or blue or gold. It seemed as if the artist had left the painting there. It was incomplete, indeed.
She walked to the far end of the room, ducking several rows of drying photographs and stood in front of the mirror. Her hand shot up and traced against the curves of her cheek. They moved down the bulge of her lips. And she gasped in horror.
Turning around, she didn’t bother to duck this time. With every step, she ripped every photo from its place. Carefully, with hesitant steps, she walked to the table and lifted the paper up. In horror, she cried.
Looking around, she saw those million beautiful pictures and then stared at the ugly one she held in her hand. It was not the fault of the sun who cast an unnecessary glare; neither was it the fault of the specks of dust at the corners of the lens. Now she knew why. She was the ugly one. She was the one who made the picture look rather incomplete. Because though she captured justifying beauty through her lens, deep inside her, she was nothing, but a void.
And like the million times before, with the picture clutched firmly in her hand, she walked to the very corner where rested a little tank of water.
And laughing and cheering in merry, she shoved the photograph into it.
As the colours faded away and mingled with the clear water, under the faint red light of the room, she saw her reflection down under.
Hers was never a beautiful picture.