Oct 29, 2007
WHAT IS BEHIND THAT MASK?
It was a masquerade party and the masks had to be bought. She wasn’t as excited she had been planning the party a week back. Life wasn’t as bright it had been a month ago. Was it a month really, just a month that she met him and now it was all over? But then was there a beginning ever or was she imagining it all? When they asked him how long had he known her he’d be surprised himself when he answered saying “a few weeks”. It did not feel like that, not at all. Sometimes he felt he had known her forever. Funny but they hadn’t exchanged more than a greeting all those years when they lead parallel lives so close to each other.
She had been taken aback when he had asked her to meet up for drinks on a Wednesday night but she went and came back all happy and giggly courtesy the three Bloody Mary’s . They hadn’t spoken as much but had just sat next to each other listening to the music in the pub and laughing every now and then. He’d clicked innumerable pictures that day of the both of them as they tried really hard to appear sober but failing miserably as their droopy eyes gave them away. She felt as if he couldn’t have enough of her as she tried really hard to fight those unwanted feelings away. He was taken, a long long time back. She met him too late and now he was Mira’s. Darn lucky woman she thought.
He’d been the one who’d started talking about him self as he spoke about his past, his family, his favourite cousins and even his childhood crushes. Where had he been all these years she thought. Time flew past by when she was with him, they spoke so much that often they wouldn’t be aware of the loud music being played as they exchanged story after story. One day he’d jokingly told her “Think we knew each other before. You are so bloody similar to what I am. “ She ‘d just smile and not say a word. She was happy, she hadn’t been this happy in years.
The most wonderful part about being with him was the laughter, they laughed a lot, both of them, they giggled and smiled, even when on the phone both of them would start their conversation on a fit of giggles and how could she ever forget all the music as they sang themselves hoarse in the car since it didn’t have a music system. It was pure sunshine after a rainy day. However at the back of her mind she always knew that Mira is coming back and that Mira was the closest to his heart. She’d ask god “Then who am I? Why do I feel the way I do?” His past was Mira’s , his future too was Mira’s then where did she fit in? They say live in the present and she did that.
Mira was back and she invited Mira too for the masquerade party. Mira was tiny with an elvish face and amazing zest for life. She loved the way Mira danced and the first time all of them met up after a while she became a silent spectator to the scene unfolding in front of her eyes. She bought masks for both of them that day when she went mask shopping. A pink and green for Mira and a yellow one for him as Mira had instructed her. Yeah how ironical this was a masquerade party and what better than a mask to hide all that she felt. But would these frivolous feathers be enough, what about the eyes, the eyes always gave her away. They filled up with her salty tears with such an ease.
The bell rang as the guests came in one by one, each wore beautiful masks in brilliant colours. He came too with Mira and she opened the door and greeted both of them warmly. “Where is my mask?” He whined like a little child. She handed him his mask. She was already wearing hers. It was a burnt orange one. He put his on as Mira was trying hard to fix hers. Mira looked like a little pixie with her mask as she clung on to him grinning, happiness radiating through her. She walked away, talking to the others, asking them if she could get them a drink, slowly she retrieved to the dark corner in the terrace . A lone tear glistened in her eyes as she looked up at the sky filled with stars. Another mask, the sky wore its gorgeous black velveteen mask sprinkled with stars. Maybe the sky too had much to hide from view of the world just like she did. “What is behind that mask?” somebody whispered softly behind in her ears. She turned around to find a masked stranger. She looked into his eyes, they were hazel in colour. It struck her then that two whole months spent with Neil but she didn’t know the colour of his eyes. She had never dared to look into them and he had never come that close. The fences had always been there, pristine white picket fences but she had chosen to be blind to them. Not anymore. Never again.
“So are you gonna tell me what is behind that mask or maybe I can see right through it.” Said the stranger. She chuckled as she was awaken silently from her reverie. He could see traces of her dimples as they the smile lit up her face , he could make out the cleft and the tiny mole under her lips. She smiled as she ripped the mask of her face .The mask was gone, lost somewhere in the darkness of the night.