Through a Glass Case

| April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

I smile as I pass the mummies, remembering my last visit to the MFA one year ago. It was a class trip; my creative writing teacher hoped that experiencing timeless visual art would spark fresh inspiration. He wasn’t wrong. My friend wrote a story about a mummy who wondered how they ended up behind a glass case. Me? I wrote about Jesus’ eyes.

With this memory, I wander around and long for art to overtake me. My breathing slows. It is the third to last day of spring break, and I am dreading the inevitable return to the daily rituals of college. I suppose that I could tell you that I came here for “inspiration.” My feet move as they see fit as I morph into a sponge, captivated by the mesmerizing patterns and hieroglyphics that long for someone to understand their story. I become fixated on a mummy, the same mummy that caught my friend’s attention last year.

I stare at the mummy.

The mummy stares back.

A peaceful smile dominates its face, and hieroglyphics dance along its body. I stare at the glass case, moving my head around the mummy to see the mummy differently based on the reflection. Suddenly I am the mummy, trapped behind the glass cases of race, gender, class, and caste. Unable to move, these labels suffocate me as I am boxed into other’s perceptions of me. The lurch in my stomach faithfully reminds me of my doom in three days, struggling to stay true to myself when this BUreaucratic institution constantly tells me no: NO, we won’t make gender neutral bathrooms even though students have been advocating for 10+ years; NO, we won’t honor your medical request to be housed in a single person apartment; and NO, we won’t believe, help, or respond to you appropriately when you rightfully tell us that you need help.

Photo credit: Original photo by Nisha Kishore

Photo credit: Original photo by Nisha Kishore

I cannot find a single spot where there is no reflection caused by the light interacting with the glass. My view will always be tainted by these interactions. The reality that I will never experience the presence of this mummy in its purest form sets in, and I am very sad. I wonder if anyone will ever truly know me, because as much as I might try to get to know someone, they will always have biases and perceptions of me (conscious or not) that influence how they interact with me. I have these as well…will I ever truly know someone? Are we all in our own little glass cases, being seen through others’ eyes and their perceptions of us?

As I am about to leave, the mummy’s smile draws me back. It is so alone, yet so at peace. I stare at its smile through the glass case and feel an equally terrifying and liberating realization that I am in my own universe. Maybe, just maybe the best company that I will ever experience is my own.

Thanks, Mummy.

Good talk.

featured photo credit: Original photo by Nisha Kishore

Tags: , , ,

Category: Columns, East by West by T, featured, Philosophy and Religion, Reflections

Nisha Kishore

About the Author ()

He is a junior studying Comparative Literature and HUMANgles, a major she created exploring human behavior through various intersecting disciplines. She is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo. They were a chess champion at age 8. He does not like it when she is put in a "box" because of their race, "gender," or life circumstances. They use their writing and visual art (ig @nisha.pause) to defy such boxes and create alternate experiences of reality. Nisha identifies with many genders.

Leave a Reply