Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Masked Woman

I have masks from all over the world strung up on my wall. It took a kid to walk in and ask me “Do you wear any of the masks?” to get me thinking.

I try hard to be honest – especially to myself… but...

There’s my Jack Nicholson Joker mask : The smile frozen in ice, when I want desperately to be somewhere else but am trying to look interested. “Yes, really, that is sooooooo interesting, tell me more.” (I wonder what’s for dinner?!!). “Yes, what you do is soooo interesting.” (Where is the loo in this place?)

My Raavana mask : (oooh boy, here comes Mama, with her 10 heads – all looking equally fierce.. we musta done something really bad today !) Followed by 2-year-old Niks who quickly said yesterday, “Ok, Mama, I’m going to stand in the corner.”

And then sometimes, it all slips !
To the Rain-goddess mask : I have had enough of everyone and everything… I’m underpaid and over-worked ! Watch out, the showers are gonna start ! hooooowl !

If I have a mask I pull out for every occasion - I’m wondering what the real me looks like?

I know people – a vary rare few actually – who are so comfortable in their own skins, that they actually are the same with everyone…. either utterly rude, or politically incorrect, or preachy, or whatever.. but it’s the same (take me as I am)…

But the majority of us, we’re multiple-masked bandits, aren’t we? The Kick-ass-Boss mask, the Lone Ranger (“no one better come into my corner”) mask, the Nobody-can-hurt-me mask, the yahoo-always-smiley mask…. No one really sees the real us… not even the mirror ?

And this is the part I hate : We teach our kids to mask themselves early in life. (Atleast Michael Jackson is open about it). I saw Neel come home from school today with swollen eyes.. but when he saw me, he tried to smile. That’s the Big-Boys-Don’t-Cry Mask. And I’ve been teaching him to wear it.


  1. Thought-provoking and simple. A good way to actually explore whether you have masks on is to ask those in your environment to describe you; and to check if these words match your self-image. I would, for example, use the words : "HEROIC" and "CHARMING" for you. My opinion. Does it match?

  2. Thanks Jack Nicholson - (who are you really?) and I wouldn't use the word "heroic" - no, but I know what you mean. so thanks.

  3. Jack Nicolson!!

    I do belive it is him - really do!!

    It was as wonderful & thought provoking as your blogs always are. We all go around with masks & conciously & unconciously we train our kids to do the same!!

    I have yet to meet a "maskless" person!!

    I'm sorry I've misplaced my "witty mask" & have my "serious mask" on today!!

  4. Sometimes I think we get so involved in the images we portray to different people that we forget to check-in and see who we really are. Are we so dependent on approval from all and sundry that we need to scramble about trying all these different masks??
    I see it so clearly now that I am a mom. Everywhere I go, mothers are busy comparing what their babies can and can't do. Are we trying to steroetype and put all babies into one basket - teaching them to fit in to be accepted? Bobby and I are very conscious that we want Kee to grow up strong, secure and confident within herself. But with kids the best way is to teach by example. Now that's the easy peasy bit eh? ;)

  5. Truely nice way to explore yourself and see your self in the the children. talking about masks, my children immediately put on a long nose when they lie. Now they think its funny, But really it was me who taught them that when Pinnochio lies his nose becomes long!!

  6. Actually, not thought about this one directly. I did find the psychologist's 20 second piece in 'the mask' movie fascinating where he used the mask as a metaphor much the way you have.

    One thing that I have thought of and steadfastly believe in is that I don't care about my face. Others have to look at it but I never have to. So I am ok with balding and graying, and my relatively recently acquired puffy cheeks.

    The other thing I have thought hard about is being someone else. You know you get a choice with everything, but you don't get a choice about who you are in a very literal sense. As a kid I have imagined out of body experiences, and a very literal feeling of being someone else, so I can watch what stupid little srini does next.

    I try everyday to get rid of my masks. I find people are more accepting of you if you don't wear them. So I am the guy who doesn't pretend to be busy, says what is on his mind, and likely to not progress professionally because he calls a spade a spade. I think a dash of diplomacy would go well with taking the mask off, but we don't get everything, do we?

    Now that I have keyed this in on my phone, I am left wishing I had posted this on your blog. Please would you Ctrl C/V it? Thanks.

    Hugs to the boys. I think it sound soppy to put it on your blog as a comment, but love your blog.


    P.S. was opened to the public today. Will step up pr efforts in a week.

  7. Ironic that you choose today's post to mention Michael Jackson. You might want to change the tense in your line "(...was open about it)."
    Long live the King.

  8. Jandy: as always I forget that my Mac's safari browser hassles me leaving a comment, so here I am on firefox:-)

    another heartfelt piece by you. All I have to say is 'people who are comfortable in their own skins are as rare as those who accepts then the way they are'.

    its unfortunate how we tell kids 'you can be anything you want to be but 'yourself'.

  9. A very touching post Jane. Should I blame it all on our social structure? Atleast, I care a damn. But I know most from the previous generation and majority from the current are constantly living to please the society not themselves. Masking themselves and doing things to make sure that it is socially right.

  10. thanks all - including the "Stars" ;-)
    slash - legends don't die
    alok - i love that - teach your kids to be anything but yourself.... hmmmmmmmm
    archana - the wearing of a mask is ok i guess as long as you know you;re wearing one - it's the moment you pretend you're not - that you're deluding yourself, right?

  11. I beg to differ. Masks are good, Jandy, and everyone out there. Could you go into the sun and stare at it? You need a layer of protection between you and the world. Or it's too harsh.

  12. I wish we guys could sit on a table and debate. Now masks are good and good and good as long as you know who you are??? Yes I am not sure I quiet agree with the "suncreen factor" keanu reeves. May sound like a hip anology, I guess we get used to the masking that it makes ourselves feel really good and may be not so good sometimes. The not so good part gets masked even more when you are not aware that its not so good. Do you get this cycle - Its a Circular Loop. The best way to identify with yourself is to "meditate" your thoughts for an hour every day. When you continue self relialization and identification process begins. Its not easy as said though, but you are never late.

  13. Ms Archana, there is no one in the world who has the courage to go out without a mask. Even gurus/ spiritual leaders have this mask of having achieved self-realization. It is a mask they need to have on or no one would take them seriously.

  14. I think it is very interesting that you have spoken about masks when Micheal Jackson is in the news, who lived all his life trying to look like someone else. It is proof that everyone uses masks, no matter how rich and famous you be.

  15. Thought thought and thought after reading this... I don't think there is a person in the world who does not wear a mask.. the question is how many and how often!!!!

    Hopefully we are truthful about ourselves by limiting the amount/ kinds of mask we wear!!!!

  16. I agree Ira. I am not denying people dont wear masks. But why again should we compare ourselves to those people who wear mask. Why again do we have to succumb to social pressures, why again do have to live our lives for other people. Think people! think!. Well MJ might be a proof of external masking, but really there a difference here. Again, maskng yourself externally and understanding what you are internally are two diff things to ponder. Living everyday making yourself feel good by knowling you have done some good to the world and yourself is not masking, it is reality. Doing things for the sake of doing and showing the world that you have done something could be masking. Now is masking bad or good is something to ponder.

  17. Now talking about gurus, lets not get into that topic. I dont believe in those masked people precisely. People who are devoted to these masked gurus are masked themselves as they don't believe in themselves. Again they want to feel good externally to show people that that are followers of certain leaders and that they are clean and again mask to people to show they are pure!! Trust and believe in yourself and you don't need these masked gurus to help you feel better. Who said they are not masked. Now by gurus i mean the new age gurus.

  18. I agree we put on masks and then expect people to treat us for who we really are.