What follows is an account of a young woman, who was a critic of character and a target of critique. This girl, Mindy, would often look at others and see them, not for who they are, but for the personality projected by their perceived appearance. These projections, though warped by painted faces and unreal Facebook pages, where the lanterns illuminating Mindy’s world. Her world of darkness in the light.

Mindy would always indulge her almost natural human responses by concluding the more deplorable mythologies of people. If someone wears long locks and their trousers hang too low, that person is a druggie. If someone wears short skirts and is too friendly, that person is a whore. If someone steals food and doesn’t look too skinny, that person is a heartless criminal. If someone has another skin colour, that person has intrinsic flaws unique to their race.

In the year she turned seventeen, Mindy, along with the rest of the youth group at her local church, learned of the demise of a girl who had previously been with them. This girl was an oddball at best and left the “family” about a year prior to her death. From Mindy’s eye angle, the girl, who shall not be named, was not ever fully accepted, a practice Mindy herself mindlessly participated in. She would softly be judged as a weirdo, a freak, for not acting normal enough. If the group silently wished for her to disappear, the genie had answered.

On the day the youth mass leader announced the girl’s death, which may have been a suicide, he said with tears in his eyes even he had unintentionally shunned her. His greatest fear was that, at the time of her end, she had lost her way and might end up in eternal suffering, partly due to his unwillingness to fully embrace her. A chord was struck that day. Although it took time to sink in and take effect, Mindy resolved not to judge people further on. This was, however, not simply done. Nigh, 16 months after this decision, she woke up to the harsh reality that she had deceived herself.

Her boyfriend of five months erupted suddenly as she called a girl with a polymer ring on her index finger, a “cheapie; and doesn’t she know what a RINGFINGER is for,” adding a sprinkling giggle for good measure. A small, perhaps even negligible comment, but the final inch of the fuse for Mindy’s boyfriend. After an emotionally violent and verbally exacerbating volley of fury, the romance was mystified and Mindy’s world engulfed in the ensuing entropy. She was made aware, in one fell swoop, her failure to reform.

As soon as she made the choice to reset her ways, the mission was doomed, as she did not see the full extent of her habits. She now considered how far-reaching single words could be and made the effort to cut them away. But for all her commitment and self-restrictiveness, there bore no fruit. At this time, soon after she finalised her school career, a terrible fact dawned on Mindy: she herself was exactly who she projected to be. This in itself is a unique and marvellous thing, most would say, but in her case, it was an ugly projection, and two-dimensional.

Mindy was not deep or complicated, she was a stereotypical high school girl, whose view of the world was cornered by what others looked like. She was no more and no less. After one year of studying at the tertiary level, her very thoughts began to change. She read a book, entitled “How to win friends and influence people”. The manual, penned by Dale Carnegie, repeated lessons Mindy had heard throughout her life: treat others as you would yourself, don’t judge people too quickly and listen to them. But for a reason, as yet undiscovered, this time the wisdom stuck.

Within another year, the girl who once socially convicted so many in her wake, now looked for excuses in every nook and cranny, to cast doubt on a person’s guilt in any matter.

No word could be spoken over someone, unless they were present, or if it was the solid truth.
Despite her ultimate creed of love, many of the friends Mindy harboured, vanished as mirages. Now she was boring. Now she was a buzzkill. Now she became hated by those, who did not want forgiveness for others, but needed them to burn for their sins. Now she was complete.