Pablo Picasso's 'Girl Before a Mirror' (1932)
  • Pablo Picasso's 'Girl Before a Mirror' (1932)

The naysayer in me shouted out once more.

“You will never amount to anything!”

Her voice was so very loud that it echoed through my chest and rattled every bone of my ribcage, making even my blood seize up in terror and stop throbbing for a moment.

Naysayer.

That was her name and yet she resembled me in every other way. She had my big eyes, my molten chocolate skin and the same big crop of black curls as I did on my head; she looked like me, laughed like me and when I looked into the mirror mounted on the inner door of my wardrobe, it was she I saw smirking back at me.

She had everything that I had and one more thing. She had my confidence.

It wasn’t so much that she’d stolen it from me, but that I had given it to her, holding it out like a little child holds out a palmful of soil and grit to a stranger; blissfully unaware that dirt is not a gift. But to the naysayer I did not give dirt. I gave her the most precious and prized thing that I possessed. I gave to her the beautiful pearl that was my confidence and let her wear it on a garish chain around her neck and make an ugly thing of it.

Whenever I looked at her in the mirror, I always caught a glimpse of that pearl’s splendour and wondered how I could ever get it back; how I could ever wear it around a beautiful chain of silver and adorn my own being with its beauty.

“You will never amount to anything! You are worthless!”

The voice was getting stronger and louder, causing my ears to sting and tears to form within my eyes.

“Naysayer, you are a liar! I will make something of myself. I am nothing that you tell me I am!”

Her mocking laughter sounded like a pack of shrill bats shrieking across the night sky.

“You belong to me and always will! You are nothing!”

“No!” I cried, wrapping my hands tight against my ears, my tears now soaking my face with salty pain. “No!”

In fearful desperation for the noise to stop, I went before the mirror once more and stood across from my nemesis, watching her laugh back at me, shuttling my pearl between her fingers like a pebble.

Amid my tears, I found voice to speak.

“Naysayer, for many years I have feared you and revered you at the same time. I have allowed you to speak into me and bark at me. I have taken it all like helpless prey takes a vulture’s attack. I have stood and watched you make a toy of my most precious gem and all I have ever done in response is to stare wistfully at what I could have; what I could have been. But today, I say I am done. Today, I tell you that I will no longer listen, no longer tremble, no longer cry. Today, I will shout louder than your words and listen for their magic. Today, I will listen to the voice within.”

The naysayer smirked and chortled, dragging up a slug of sputum from her chest, all the way up her throat and finally, she catapulted it out of the back of her mouth to land stickily across my face.

“You are nothing!” she laughed.

But for the first time ever, I did something more than cry in response. I didn’t rattle or tremble or cower or crawl away. I did not shut my eyes and ears tight and hope that in so-doing, she would disappear, for she never did. No.

Instead, I stood boldly before her and laughed along with her; laughed so hard that all the stale air from the pit of my belly escaped from inside of me and made way for heaving breaths of new life. I laughed until I cried, letting the tears soak my face through again, washing away the sticky mess of her spit and spite, allowing cleansing like a baby ‘s first bathe after birth.
I laughed and laughed until the naysayer stood cold and stern like a pillar of stone. From the blur of my half-shut eyes, I could see her rage building.

“You only do as I say for you to do!” she hissed, groping at the pearl around her neck.

“And you only do as I say for YOU to do,” I echoed.

The naysayer stood still, transfixed by my audacity.

“You are only a reflection of me. You are not real. You have no authority over me for if I reach out to touch you, I realise you are only glass; cold glass that can shatter into a million pieces of nothing. I am the living one, the one who tastes the air and feels the blood coursing through my being. I am the one who has made you and therefore, I have dominion over you. Naysayer, you will always live within me but today I have decided that rather than allow you to laugh at me, I will laugh with you. I will laugh because you are stupid and worthy of no other response. But mostly, I will laugh because of my joy at knowing that my confidence is something that you do not possess."

With this, the naysayer looked back at me quizzically.

“Yes, my confidence is not your possession. That pearl around your neck does not even begin to measure how much I can be for I am limitless and richer than can ever be quantified with one gem. All of me is precious stone, so why should I chase after one piece that you do not even own?! Away with you!”

And with that, I closed my wardrobe and walked across my room to the vase of new spring flowers sprouting on the window sill. Their leaves looked greener and sturdier than they had ever done before. Within the folds of older leaves, I noticed a new bud pushing its way quietly through the soil.

“New life,” I whispered softly, addressing no one and nothing in particular.

And then I drew the baby-blue curtains of my room and in the soft dusk light, I began to write.

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Comments

I am so very glad that naysayer was shouted into the shadows and you emerged glorious and victorious. We are surrounded by these creatures, and the one that is most destructive is always the one in the mirror. It is time to realize that the pearl the mirror image wears is actually a diamond in our pocket only to be had for reaching in and grasping.

Write on, Fungai, and tell our story!

R

Our worst enemy is often ourselves. We can really beat ourselves down sometimes... that's why I chose to write about this from the perspective of a person having a battle with self. It is 'me' within myself who is hardest to 'kill' because 'me' lives inside me....

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

This is so well written, Fungai! It pulled me on -- with the repetition, with the parallel construction, with the combined conversation and internal reflection. And such beautiful, remarkable spunk and power! Oh, your readers are affirmed and empowered by you - your narrator -- in this story.

How fun. Thank you for this inspiration. I am sending it on to a teacher I have and I bet she will pass it on -- with credit to you...to the online class.

Beautiful--

Anna

Speaking my Peace

Thank you for passing this along. I hope it will inspire as many as who may see it. That's what's writing is all about - sharing stories and hope!!! Thank you once again for taking time to have a read!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Beautifully and wisely written, Fungai. I think it will resonate for so many people around the world. It did for me! Why do we listen to that inner naysayer? We all have one. From you, we learn to laugh at her, take back our power, and get on with our lives! Thank you!

Shanti, peace

Liz

I thought hard about what would be the best response to the dilemma. Would it be bettter if she broke the mirror, simply closed the wardrobe, somehow managed to reach into the mirror and grab her pearl? There are so many options available in telling a tale and I finally decided that laughing and reclaiming what was used for oppression was the best solution. So laughing at yourself is key to overcoming some of the things you think are the worst. At least that's what I believe!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Sister Fungai,, so beautiful and inspiring too. I always do admire your writing dear. Your litarature always touch me and fills me with very new aromas ... wow!!!!!! proud to have you !! keep going on,,,,,

Live and Let Live Usha http://globalpressinstitute.org/user https://www.facebook.com/usha.anuyaee

Thank you for always having a kind word to say :) You are a wonderful sister!!!! I hope to keep inspiring you. And I alos to keep being inspired by you!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Writing stories is a part of me. I will keep telling some more!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Wonderful writing Fungai! Of course you are always a creative writer in my heart and mind.

Love,

Sarvina

Regards, Sarvina from Cambodia VOF 2011 Correspondent

You are doing so well! I saw the post about the retreat to the US. I hope you can get funding for a plane ticket and go! All the best!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

That paint for a being, is it just our bodies? Is it the mirrow? naysayer?! Fungai, I enjoyed reading this poem/story/inner felt thought. I will print it and share with the stars dimmed by her "naysayer!". I am strangling this-one-in-me NOW, Hmmmhhffff!.

I love this!

Love, Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

The naysayer must not be given air. She must choke on her own words and you must reclaim what is yours!!!! Good luck with your interview!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

I am glad that I could help add colour :)

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Thank you for sharing this sweet, sweet thought with us. Your writing is beautiful.

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Any time Rachael!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

You have always been a wonderful and creative writer. I love your confidence and boldness. Congratulation for being among the shortlisted vof and sure you will have a successful interview and will emerge one of the three

All the best.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

We shall have to wait and see... there are some powerful women in the line-up and each one has amazing qualities to represent us so well. Whoever gets it will still be so amazing!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Fungai, This is beautiful.As usual your writng has kept my brains ticking like a clock for the past seconds!I just learned what to do with my naysayer.I assure you, she is killed and buried this night.You inspire Fungai. Much Love

But always remember that you cannot actually kill this one. She comes back all the time!!! So you have to learn to let her live inside you but not let her rule you. You have to be ruthless with her and tell her to GO AWAY! Wishing you the best for the interviews :)

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

I admire your voice as always.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale Founder/Project Coordinator Star of Hope Transformation Centre 512 Road F Close Festac Town Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Thank you so so so much. I hope you are well :)

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

I loved it, you write so beautifully and the story kept me thinking and going for moments that followed.

All the best.

Flor

I am glad that there were moments that followed. It's those moments that help to distill what has been said and how it can apply to you. So I hope that droplets of inspiration have flowed into your spirit, rushing with the tide. Take care :)

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

fungai - I love your writing and am so happy you are on the short list for the speaking tour. And this is a great piece - away with the naysayer! I know if you are chosen you will carry all our voices with you. I hope when you are home you will look me up and we can meet with love - Jackie ( Bounce)

I will definitely get in touch! That would be really great :) Let's keep flying that Zim flag higher and higher!!!! Take care and enjoy life, sans Naysayer!

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

At first I thought it was a poem, then I told myself it may be a play of an actor I don't know.

At the end it was you writing... You are really special with an amazing voice and style. I love this one!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

I just started writing it last week at night and it just ended up becoming a sort of parable. I am glad you enjoyed it. I will keep trying to write more pieces like this as I think they are a nice way of looking at thing differently. Take care! And yes, trust your hopes and not your fears - that is very powerful :)

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane

Dear Fungai,

I love this story. The ending is so powerful; I am fully inspired by the content of your story and the writing style. I especially liked the ending part that you chose not to break the mirror or grab the mirror or whatever as you mentioned in one comment above but chose to deal with Naysayer with your confidence and power.

Keep writing!

Love, Deepti

I don't think that the Naysayer can ever be killed so I think we all have to learn to live with her. Just close the door and keep going... She will call again and you will have to talk to her once more, but just keep talking back to her!!! Thank you for reading this and for your comment :)

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane