S S Sodhi
The ongoing global pandemic which has prompted the mandatory usage of face mask for life – safety, has also brought in the new social acceptance for mask in the civilized society as wearing it shows that you are cautious, responsible, and caring not just about yourself but also for those around you.
The world economy may have been effected due to the pandemic but on the contrary, the demand based mass scale production of the masks has not just plummeted, but has also taken a new high growing infallibly from being ‘plainly essential’ to gradually ‘creatively symbolic’, and now becoming ‘colourfully ethical’, as evident from the colorful masks being sold these days, matching every color and design.
However, the harsh reality is that wearing a mask has not come to us with a choice or cannot always be considered as stylish as sometimes the experience of wearing a mask itself may be uncomfortable and quite unsettling. Wearing masks can feel stuffy, humid and warm, making eye glasses often fog up and your speech muffled and unclear if you are attempting to make a point, although it is entirely upto the wearer to decide how much to cover and what all portion to cover.
Quite interestingly, while basic masking does partially hide people’s original identity and expressions, it also gives them a new veiled identity which is far more elusive, distant and apparantly also a cautious one.This often feels impenetrable and raises doubts about personality changes likely to have occured under the circumstances such as, it is uncertain whether a person veiled behind a mask can feel empathy for other people’s pain and suffering or has become hardened or stoically withdraw into his own shell of indifference.
In any case, other than wearing the COVID mask for necessary safety precaution, covering yourself with it also gives it as many metaphoricalintrepsretations as one would like to imagine.
For instance, you may like to think of a Mask as something which exists as a link between the two realities of our everyday life- one which is now on the outside – highly vulnerable human life hanging on a delicate balance and the life on the inside which evolves uncertainly as it responds to the pressure around itself.
Similarly, wearing a Covid Mask could mean different things to different people such as hiding away from their ugly reality and taking a comfortable refuge in the act of human kindness and protection.
Encouraging such introspection and further exploring the religious, historical, cultural, social and political background related to the wearing of a mask in India and all over the world would do a person great deal good in terms of intellectual exercising.
In the meantime, it is sufficient to know that Masks are likely to prevail and stay for long. Whether they prove to be powerfully impenetrable or ineffectively violable amidst the Corona pandemic ,shall only be seen with time as as we haven’t yet achieved 100% full proof guarantee for the same.
But remember as Rumi once famously said, ” There is a King who is aware of any mask that you put on”, do put up yours carefully for your own safety and for those around you. Also remember that, “Whatever purifies you is the right path”.For those who still adamantly refuse to wear face masks for lame reasons should know that a little vulnerability allows you to grow and pandemic has given an equal opportunity to all to “explore yourself to free yourself.” Therefore, wear a mask for larger good and free yourself.
The author is a social activist & a renowned educational consultant