Initially, as news of the horrible virus spread, terrified people hurried for flimsy masks available at stores, rummaged for thicker, longer ones the shopkeeper said, would keep them safe not just from the virus but from any ailment under the sun, and settled for those Batman and Phantom would have found tediously large!

Long discussions took place on which mask was best, and if even by chance some one passed by wearing a handkerchief instead of a mask, the whole gathering stood up and lynched the poor fellow verbally.

A mask was a mask, and the thicker the better. The longer, even better than better!

But like the bikini of yore, which once made dainty maiden feel a suffocating blanket was wrapped round her, and thus shrank in size over the years, the mask did too. Maybe, wearers got fed up with the weight of such cumbersome appendage on fragile visage, weary that after supporting, nose, mouth and ears, it had to support this additional burden. So the mask grew thinner, even as it started looking slimmer and soon, there were even see-through masks where traces of a smile or frown, or whatever the wearer had been hiding for nearly six months was now seductively ever slightly visible.

And soon those very virus protectors, slid down from slender mouths and nestled themselves around the neck. From bikini to necklaces for that is what the wisp of a mask so daintily wrapped on swan like neck looked like, not just by lovely maidens but even by bouncers and musclemen.

The mask had slid down, and now looked like a fashion statement, until the wearer beheld afar the khaki uniform of a policeman, and hey presto, like a visor pulled down when knights of old went to battle, the pretty mask was roughly hauled up, covering, and protecting the wearer from government fine.

And when the man in khaki had disappeared, the mask slid down, back to its resting place on muscled neck.

But yesterday…

….the masks came off!

Agitating farmers outside the city walls of the capital, looked astounded at sharp nails scattered on roads, barbed wire barricades that had sprung up overnight along with spear like spikes! They stared with horror at trenches dug round them, then looked at each other dismayed, as they finally understood; the masks were off.

They gazed at blank screens on phones with no internet, then stared bleakly at the capital, slowly realizing the long conversations they’d had with those who’d patiently listened in there, were those whose expressions and intentions had lain hidden behind their masks…

…but now the masks are off..!

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