The glorified mask has taken a tiny shelf in our wardrobe since the pandemic has receded our fancy dress trials! The films of over-priced clothes on the hangers beckon to be exquisitely adorned but we settle for the ordinary as Covid has made us socially outcast. We are now more concerned of the piteous eyes of the police personal hawking a glance inside the mirror to watch for any mask negligence.
Masks have become a ubiquitous commodity. Besides being a protective layer to ward off the notorious virus, it has ensconced itself in shops as a pair of two flocking together or a salute to the overpowering dress with their destinies indissolubly bound together, and displaying a cornucopia of privileged fabrics and embroideries for a palatable style statement. The shop owners understand the conditioning of such a precious product, and as they say the taste of pudding lies in eating, have tasted the magnanimity of its authority and now relish the serendipity of its origin.
Recently, I happened to visit a huge store for buying Rakhi gifts, and to my amusement, the Rakhi hamper consisted an agglomeration of Indian sweets, dramatic Rakhis and the universal mask.
What does mask have to do with Raksha Bandhan? Doesn’t it sound like a cohesive strategy to sell the non-negotiable—though, we would hardly see brothers-sisters attending the festivities with the mask-on! Nevertheless, the mask bejewelled to fit any occasion seems to proliferate the enterprising guilt of the shopwallas to which the customers so unrepentantly give in. We also see the eating joints or cafes with people savouring the delicacies with a cup’O’mask blatantly thumbed down or recklessly removed and kept on the table as if freed from captivity.
The N-95 and the N-99 masks seem to be an old hat. The Giordano and the Marks and spencer masks are the new variety of nuts, pompously worn by the elite and not so middle class (climbing yet to become elite). Spending a whopping Rs. 500-600 on a cotton mask because it bears a stamp of a favoured brand is a blandishment to the Covid bug to steer-off their privileged bodies. On the flip side, the Rs. 100 mask recalcitrantly worn by the less privilegedis more of a nuisance to them rather than something in-vogue.
The mask is now a concomitant traveller being whisked up and down and sometimes lamed off its loop from an ear to daggle mercilessly. It is a partner in our crimes and comforts, and a silent spectator of its dilapidated state when used callously. Nevertheless, it is an indefatigable warrior in the gruesome fight against Covid and will go a long way in the human exculpation of its denial.