Poking nose


poking noseMirror has been part of my thoughts from my childhood. I have been told that when I came across a mirror for the first time and saw myself through it I started laughing loudly and stopped only when it was removed from my presence. As I grew older my initial reaction gave way to inquisition. I am told that I used to ask many questions about how we could see through it.

My earliest memory of mirror relates to an incident that happened when my elder sister was holding a mirror and looking into it and combing her hair and I was playing with my ball by throwing it against a wall and catching it when it returned.  Once when I threw the ball instead of hitting at the normal place it struck a round corner and on the way back hit my sister’s hand resulting in the mirror falling down and broken in to pieces. My sister started crying and unable to understand what had happened I joined my sister. Our mother came rushing in and asked my sister the reason of our crying. My sister pointed towards me and said that I had broken the mirror. She also pointed towards the broken pieces of the mirror. It was for the first time I saw those pieces and was surprised to see my image in almost every piece. “So many me, so many me.” I shouted in excitement. My mother took me away from the broken pieces, but she could not take me away from developing a fascination for mirror.

Later on when I became a school going boy I met a class mate whose name was John Arthur, but who was called Edison by class fellows due to his interest in science and experiments. I found him intelligent and inquisitive about how different things happen. When I told him about my quest for knowing about how a mirror is created and how it works he promised to help me. But, I decided not to wait and to start of my own and try to study mirror in detail. I was lucky in finding a small mirror that had been discarded and was lying in the old things store. I put it in my cupboard and decided to examine in detail from “scientific point of view” on the weekly holiday. A night before the holiday I was so excited that I decided to start my work immediately. Looking at it in detail I found that while the front side had a shiny surface, the rear side had reddish color. I took out a divider from my geometry box and used one of its pointed leg to scratch the shiny surface and after sometime a spot appeared on it. I could see the absence of any part of image on the spot created. I then decided to do the same action on the rear side and found that it was much easier and the reddish material was easily scratched creating a bigger space without the color and through it a simple glass surface was visible. Having completed these actions I decided that the best way to know how to create a mirror was to recreate it and decided to do it the next day. After breakfast the next day I restated my work. As a first step I completely scratched the rear surface and collected the reddish color powder at one place. I put a little bit water to make a paste and spread it on the rear side of the original mirror and then took it to the roof of the house and put under the sun rays for drying it and went back to my room. I went to the roof several times to see whether the material pasted had dried up and after 5/6 hours it showed a semblance of roughly dried out, but to my dismay I could not see any shiny surface on the front side and no image. I decided to share my experience with Edison the next day.

The next day I briefed him and sought his help. He told me it is better that we discussed it with our science teacher. During lunch break we met our science teacher and asked him about mirror creation and its working without telling about my experiment. He told us that the concept of mirror was taken by men from stationary water after seeing their own reflection in it. Just like water the front shiny surface of mirror takes the light that hits it and reflects it back. He told us that with pure silver nitrate, distilled water, and ammonia, one can make a mirror. He went on to describe the process in detail. We were very happy and noted down the name of the chemicals/ material and the process. The next problem was how to buy the material including a burner. I was lucky, an uncle of Edison was running a chemicals shop and he promised to get it for me, and he did that without telling me how. We however, shared the cost equally and I used my pocket money for the purpose.

On the next weekly holiday I invited Edison to my home for doing the needful. It was the most important day of my life. My room was our lab and the old discarded mirror the object of our experiment. We opened the process notes paper and initiated the process. We started by rubbing the two surfaces with a special paper for making them smoother and more even as that was the first requirement. After that, we started the process of putting chemicals on the surfaces cautiously and with full cautions written on their containers. Our first two attempts to put material on both the sides were not successful, and we have to go through it again. Third time around we were able to cover the two surfaces more smoothly and then waited for completion of the drying process holding our breaths. After checking it continuously and nervously, we found the surfaces considerably dried out. Holding the handle of hoped-to- be mirror I placed it in front of my eyes to see myself. There it was my nervous looking face with all its original features albeit with some scratched lines on the mirror, but, but, without my nose. I felt my nose with my fingers, it was very much there. “Why not my nose” I shouted giving the mirror to Edison. Suddenly I heard a voice saying: “Never ever try to poke your nose in our matters.” To this day we don’t understand why my nose was missing and where from the voice came.

Tasneem Hameed

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