Dr. Raees settled into a delicate wicker chair and draped his right leg over his left. He was a man of large stature, causing Aadila’s mind to imagine the chair buckling underneath the psychologist.
What would be his next move if that happened?
That says a lot about a person, she thought, how they act in the immediate aftermath of an embarrassing incident.
“So,” his gravelly voice brought her back to the task at hand, “have you thought about my last assignment?”
“I did it.”
“How did it go?”
Aadila had circled her apartment once, then twice, then enough times to make her a bit dizzy.
“I kept looking for the right mirror.”
He wrote something down. She wondered if he was transcribing her answer, diagnosing her condition just based on that last sentence, or jotting down something to pick up from the grocery store later.
He looked up at her as if he sensed the neurotic voices in her mind. “I’m just making a note of what you’re telling me. Psychologists benefit from reflecting on notes.”
“Then what happened?” he urged her on.
“I…” She pressed the long nail of her thumb against the pink skin of her index finger. Therapy was an odd concept to her. In the day to day of her entire life, truth-telling had been frowned up. Sharing information about her feelings seemed like a selfish use of time.
Still, if she was going to pay this much money to get the help she needed, she might as well dabble in honesty.
“My mother gave me a gift when I got married to Yousef. It was a fancy makeup set. After I got tired of walking around the whole place, I sat down in the closet and finally unwrapped it.
It had been sitting there, untouched, for a year. She knows I have very little interest in makeup, but she thought the present would aid my change into a married woman.
I uncapped the red lipstick. It was called Gulabi Laal. In my language, that means “Rose-Colored Red.” I rubbed it on my lips. Then, I rummaged through the makeup set until I found the eyeshadow palette. Those usually come with compact mirrors.”
Aadila paused. Dr. Raees leaned forward in his chair. Aadila heard it creak as if threatening to prove its fragility under his weight.
“I’m listening,” he said.
“I wiped off the red that had smudged on my skin. I looked into the small mirror, and I waited to see this woman my mother told me I was set to become. But, nothing changed. I was just me with Gulaabi Laal lipstick on.
Then I felt angry. I felt like somewhere in her heart my mother knew who I was, but she didn’t want to see it. She didn’t want to see me. I was just a mirror for her to see her own reflection.”
Aadila struggled to hold back fresh tears.
“I held up the mirror and said ‘I’m gay.’ Then I threw it against the wall. The palette broke at the hinges.”
Dr. Raees stared at her with kind eyes. “How do you feel?”
Aadila met his gaze with her own tired eyes. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. Right now, I feel defeated.”
“It’s okay,” he responded. “The point is for you to have a space to express yourself freely. I have no expectation at all regarding your feelings.”
As the session wrapped up, he got up from his chair to walk her to the door. The structure let out one final sound of protest. He chuckled. “That chair is going to give out from under me one of these days.”
“Why don’t you get a new one?” Aadila asked.
“I don’t quite know,” he set his hands on his waist. “Maybe sometimes we need things to break down just enough before we are inclined to fix them.”
He smiled, “Or I’m just incredibly lazy.”
“Next week, same time?” she confirmed.