Shattered Mirrors And Onions


For years, this scene from a Tamil movie has been stuck in my head, an early precursor of what families are like. Noisy, complicated and messy. The imagery of a shattered mirror to depict fractured relationships has stuck in my mind rising to the fore each time a relationship falls apart from the weight of expectations and lopsided give and take.

I have quoted this many times trying to explain what when wrong as I dissected the relationship and performed post mortem on the phone with other willing friends. Most have nodded along, adding their own interpretations to this universal theory on heartbreak and grief.

Today however I got off the phone with a friend of mine with whom I have a long and checkered history. We have been the best of friends. We have grown apart, fallen out, extended olive branches and resurrected what could have well been yet another casualty of time, distance and unexpressed expectations. As I hung up, I was reminded of onions.

Sharp, pungent and layered. Each layer protected by a thin film of tissue protecting the fleshy layer from the next. Sometimes I slice it open to find a rotten layer amidst perfectly good ones. I usually split them apart taking care to remove the stinky layer and go ahead and use the rest. It occurred to me that relationships could be like onions too. The good memories of the past sandwiched between unsavory parts, followed by good memories in the making. Each sheathed in layers protecting the spite from seeping into the past. To keep the rot from affecting parts of our earlier selves. Ones that only exist in pictures and the deep recesses of our brain. It is well possible to salvage just the good and leave the bad.

Mirrors or onions, our perception colors what we make of relationships.

6 thoughts on “Shattered Mirrors And Onions

  1. Sometimes it is very difficult, Laksh. I’ve had relationships that I’d thought would endure anything, go from cold to stale, with the occasional call to say hello. But , yes, the truly warm ones have endured to some extent. I do like the onion analogy. Also, your writing is like my comforting blanket. Have I told you that?

  2. I have gone through all of those thoughts (not as elegantly of course!). Now I have reached a stage where I merely let relationships take their own course – sometimes when I overthink I upset the natural flow.
    No loss (other than death) is permanent either. Relationships can fall off, but revive in time in a different dimension. So…best to just let be.

  3. Hahah love the onions analogy.. To me it is all about ppl accepting me the way I am-I call a spade a spade.. I have had a few relationships /friendships go downhill cos I dint want that negativity in my life.. After a point it was affecting me and my life as well. And then there were others who became strangers.. Oh well, I am here to live my life my way.. 😊💕

  4. I’ve always loved this movie. Complex, heavy and emotional. Indicates the so many unfairness in the joint family system, but I’ve always loved that every scene made me think.
    I wrote a similar post on fractured relationships a long time ago. I spent a long time beating myself up for not being able to salvage a broken relationship, until one day, when I just made peace with myself and embraced the happy moments. People change and there’s little that you can do to control that.
    Lovely post.

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