I was just pacing around in my room. I happened to notice a mirror. A thought flashed across my already pacing brain. It had been so many days, literally, since I had looked at my own face in the mirror. I picked it up from the table, slowly, deliberately and looked into it. A stranger looked right back into my eyes. Oblivious to my existence. Then I recognised the eyes, the nose, the face. Oh my, they were mine indeed. I was awestruck, because I was smiling. And I appeared to be extremely happy. But only I knew what lay in me. Ironically it wasn’t reflecting. What was reflecting, however, was that- I was happy…. ”was I now?”
It had just become the worst habit I could have. By smiling I actually ran away from my problems. And they went away. Or so I thought. But they never do go away. They are always there, just at the brink of light, just at the dawn of the dark. By the day, I laughed, smiled and ACTED. Just that no questions came my way. You’d expect people to shut up but they can’t. When I couldn’t answer my own questions, I DID NOT have the patience nor did I care to answer others’. The problem actually is, no one can stop people from being inquisitive, nosy. So put on a mask. I’d done the exact same thing and trust me, those people because of whom I had to put on the mask on were the worst of them all.
As days passed I liked the mask of happiness. I thought I was fooling the inside of me. I thought that it will somehow work out and I really CAN be happy. I was resisting the inside of me and it persisted and fought back with vengeance. What’s new? Its nature’s rule-“what u resist, always persists!”
I just kept fooling myself, till the mask grew on me. The mask as if living, grew on me, sending its roots deep into me, crawling, wriggling under my very skin. It covered me fully and NOW I couldn’t remove it. It remained. As a part, an organ in my body.
Coming back from my thoughts I looked into the mirror and my reflection looked back at me. Funny, the two ‘me’s were so different. The other ‘me’ looked blissful, MASKED. The me ‘me’ was sad, I knew.
Deep within me was a rising volcano of agony and pain and deprivation. About to erupt. But stopped by some unimaginable, intangible. A force to stop a volcano? It had to be the mask.
I had gotten so hard but soft that I couldn’t cry, couldn’t shout, couldn’t break something to vent my anger, put off my agony. I was just a mechanical being. Following schedules. Sleeping, waking, eating, sleeping. An ANIMAL in human flesh. And behind the flesh, a fierce battle of thoughts. Every minute. Every moment.
I’d never got what I wanted. Never. And I always told myself and rationalised that it was OK. Apparently it wasn’t. It was high time. I started thinking “maybe I’ve always wanted the wrong things”. And it took a toll on me. I went through a lot of emotional stress and agonising pain. I sat, often, clenching the skin over my stomach, sometimes a hard hand over the middle of my rigid chest, or writhing and pulling my hair and tried. Tried to cry.
The pain was becoming unbearable. The writhing, the nightmares were becoming UNBEARABLE. And during the day I couldn’t tell anything to anyone because of the mask. To ward off the heart ache, the emotional suffering, I started to give myself physical pain. Just to ward the pain off.
Coming back yet again to the mirror, I just saw a smiling, but hard face. I put the mirror down, the reflecting side to the table my happy, but false, smiling, but in pain, reflection along with it.
The mirror of life showing my reflection hurt me more and asked me questions and I showed it the same- A MASK. A MASKED REFLECTION.
“It is after all so easy to shatter a heart. To break the chain of love, to ruin a fragment of dream being carried around carefully like a piece of precious porcelain”-Arundhati Roy in The God of Small Things!