Friday, July 20, 2007

The Mask of Silence

My publicity consultant would probably suggest I add the subtitle "Based on a true story"


“Come, young boy. Come behind me, and I will shield you from the prying eyes of the world.”

I gingerly held up the mask. It was made of a lightweight metallic material, a solid feathery substance that shimmered gently in the light. From the front, it looked as featureless as a slab of granite. There were no eye slits, no nose protrusion, nothing at all to suggest that it should go on a face.

I turned it around, and looked at its inside. Aha, there are eye slits, just not visible from the front! And the nasal orifices were cleverly hidden as a series of invisibly tiny holes.

“Go on, try me on. Keep your weaknesses to yourself; the world needs not see them.”

I put on the mask and its surfaces morphed to fit my face perfectly. It was comfortable behind the mask.

The mask was a blessing. From then on, I was no longer to be read like an open book. I was not even encrypted; there was simply no emotion to be seen on my blank face. I was pleased to be able to watch people react while not having to show myself- this was the ultimate poker face.

Initially, I used the mask whenever I had cause to hide my expressions. Then I became more and more dependent on it, and it was not long before the mask became a permanent fixture.

Since no one could not see my emotions, people around me were no longer directly affected by them. With an incomplete feedback loop, my emotions started to atrophy. Anger, sorrow, joy, disappointment, hope and love evaporated steadily. Month by month, I resembled an automaton more and more. In short, I was turning into a machine.

I was inseparable from my mask. Physically, it was possible to take the mask off; but that action was as unthinkable as parading my naked and unmasked self in the streets.

Two months ago, I lifted the mask a crack. The unfamiliar sensation of fresh air stung my cheeks. I allowed it to sting, savouring the sensation of having a sensation. A light breeze blasted against me, carrying with it an intense smell of coffee, rain drops and gunpowder. I left that little crack open.

Of late, my outlook appears to change subtly when I am with a particular accuaintance. I carefully inspected my psyche, and discovered that love was not dead. Perhaps I am not dead yet.

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