By- Sarpreet Kaur


“Who are you?”  standing in front of the mirror I asked myself

“Who are you?”


If someone would have asked me this, it would have been far easier to answer 

“I am a teacher”

To few others, I would have answered

“I am a writer” 

On rare days when I don’t seek validation from others, I would have proudly declared

“I am a housewife” 


But today looking at myself in the mirror I could not utter a word. My soul was looking unblinkingly at me. And any one-line answer to “Who was I?” would have just been a lie. And you know, you cannot lie to your soul.


When people ask us this very question, we have simple one-line answers ready. We all know what they seek; what they are looking for in us. They are looking for various points of comparison and judgements - comparing them with us, comparing us with others, judging us according to various lines drawn by society and ultimately passing out a verdict if we are a success or a failure. How can I be so sure about this? – unfortunately and rather shamelessly I myself do the same when I question them and ask who are they. We, humans, are really fickle or is it just me?


“These all are mere words- just words of comparison and judgements” some would say. But words truly are sharper than swords. Because they don’t just cut through your flesh, they pierce through your soul. Once the cloud of doubt and judgments overshadows your spirit, it’s a long road which descends only towards doom.


We are diverting. This piece is not about what people think of us. It’s a futile exercise in itself.  There are billions of people and each person if thinks even two things about you, it’s a lot of noise to be dealt with. And on the other hand, the fact that people might not even be thinking about you and only you think, they think, is much more depressing. 


There is only one thing worth discussing here. 

What do I think I am? Who am I?

And in reality, only that matters.


Here I am again looking eye to eye in the mirror. 


Who am I after all?

Is it possible to explain yourself in one line? I now pierced through that brown orb in my eye, the net-like shades poking my eyeball amidst the pool of white fanned by curved lashes. The pitch dark staring right back through the mirror was overwhelming while the dull threads entangled me.


Then an echo came along, it said, 

“You are nothing. You are just a dark abyss full of nothing and still, you are endless.”


I listened to it half believing the words. But today I decided to pay heed and go for the humble road. My lips repeated 

“I am nothing.”


I let this enlightenment wrap around me, even though it’s going to be a short lived one, before my brawny ego strikes back.


Till then

I exclaim

“I am nothing”.


I am nothing still there are layers and layers of me. Those uncountable layers of my being blanketed around the real me. So in the earthly wardrobe filled with my umpteen personalities I have heaped layer upon layer. One layer I put on when I am at a social gathering, one layer is adorned when I am at work, another layer comes in handy in front of my parents and so on. Humans have perfected the art of adorning and shedding layers. I can wear this layer in front of you and the other moment it’s another layer. No one even notices might be they are busy changing their own layers. 


There are thousands of versions of us out there. Few we have created and many more are created by people- people in our homes, people on the streets, some known people, others just strangers. A mound of versions of YOU- YOURSELF stacked in the corner of your mind.


I then wonder Am I one layer-one version out of this?

I can feel am not.

What am I then?  


Before tumbling into the question again, I wonder where do these layers of us originally come from.

James Allen said “Circumstances does not make a man it reveal him to himself.” So might be, we form these layers as we go about in this world.  One layer of scholarly being was formed when you were told “How the neighbor’s son got 90 percent marks?”. Another layer of bravery developed when people said “Boys don’t cry” the next layer of outer beauty came along when a cousin said “Use this cream and you will also be fair like me”. We have good layers too that poke us to do good deeds, that tell us to take care of our parents, layers that ask us to be loyal to our loved ones, layers that shove us to work hard and then there are bad layers too but we don’t talk about them, we cannot. They are too dark.


Still the question remains…. 


Who am I?

I tried to believe “I am nothing”

But my ego does not let me “I still want to be something”


When will I get the answer?

“When I become nothing or When I find something”