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The Crow's Tale of the Masks and a Lost Friend (standard:romance, 1376 words)
Author: NILANJAN HAJRAAdded: Feb 02 2007Views/Reads: 2901/2042Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A multi-layered story of identities, love and loss!

Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

truck-loading laborers' demonstrations to the tears of wives of 
agitating tea-garden workers felled by police bullets to boiling grains 
of coarse rice in small soot-blackened dented pans under the naked sky 
in Guajarat riot-victims' relief camps, he searched for her wherever he 
even remotely imagined that she might be around.  He would of course 
dutifully come every day to the book fair, wear his mask and move from 
stall to stall.  He would sift through the books, hoping -- desperately 
hoping that one day he would suddenly feel that same tug on his right 
hand once again.  And whenever it appeared from behind that a girl 
might be wearing a mask, he would shamelessly go in front of her trying 
to discern if it was that same mask.  Often this resulted in a lot of 
bitterness and shame.  Year after year after year passed by. 

"One day as he was about to wear the mask in front of the fair gate, a
group of tensed policemen hurled him aside.  A loud hooter sounded.  It 
was followed by a caravan of shining cars that came to a halt in front 
of the gate.  A lady got out of the car that was right in the middle of 
the caravan.  Important members of the fair organizing committee 
gathered all around with a demeanor of not knowing what to do, like a 
bunch of servants taken aback by the sudden appearance of the big boss. 
 She was holding an expensive leather folio.  She turned slightly, 
opened the folio, and very carefully took out a mask.  Holding up the 
mask she ordered that if any one were to notice a man trying to enter 
the fair wearing a similar mask, he must be stopped from passing 
through the gate, his mask be confiscated, and he be sternly warned 
against returning to the fair.  'If this man takes off his mask inside 
the fair, I will be in grave danger,' she added.  Everyone looked 
bewildered for a moment, and then all of them started laughing 
furiously.  She very carefully put the mask inside the folio and turned 
to get into the car.  The fair committee members closed in towards her 
and raised a consorted hum like a bunch of flies, 'Ma'am! You have come 
so far. Won't you come inside and grace our fair?  Just once? Your 
company's sponsorship has been so valuable. Please ma'am!'  'Let me 
hold the folio for you, Madam,' said one of them zealously.  Her cheek 
bones stiffened for a fleeting second.  The bodyguards dismissed the 
flies.  Thuds of the shutting car doors rang out one after another.  
The hooter burst out. 

"The moment his stopped heart regained some kind of a rhythm, he hid the
mask under his shirt close to his chest and started running blindly.  
He is still running." 

After turning the tale a few times in my head over a cigarette, when I
went back to the window to tell the crow what was wrong with the story, 
I saw the bird had left.  And a chunk of cloud from god knows where was 
threatening to shadow the moon. 



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