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Yet Another Mask
Yet Another Mask

© Achuthan Panikath

Inspirational Romance Comedy

13 Minutes   25.2K    432

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“The greatest villain of all time is none other than Time himself. That very being determines everything that happens, everything that has happened and everything that will happen. It is he that let the Moguls be overpowered. It is he that let the world into utter chaos by handing immense power to a German named Hitler. He oversaw those two planes that changed the future of America, on a September first. In fact, this very lecture would have been envisaged by Mr. Time long before any of you were even born. Time is everything and he waits for none, cares for none, and loves none. All that we can do is respect that guy, hope that he has great things in store for us and thank him for all the events that have unfolded in the world because…”

“Everything happens for a reason,” finished, a girl from the last row of the auditorium.

The old professor with a sly smile on his lips concluded, "Almost everything happens for a reason dear. We cannot justify everything that has happened. All that can be done is to ‘hope’ that everything happens for a reason. Anyways that’s all that I have in store for you today. Any questions?”

He didn’t have to wait for long as almost all the students put their hands up. He knew that the theories that he preached that day were topics that would not be digested quickly; particularly for a restless class of fifty, all of them falling in the age group of twenty. But he, being bound by the curriculum to do so, knew that this was coming, and hence was prepared for a serious bout of weird and hard questions.

“Yes. One at a time, please.”

“Professor you said that time determines everything that happens in our life. That’s a stupid idea considering the fact that we are all living in a manner that some random guy has decided. What you said is a subtle way of telling you have no individuality and whatever you do you will end up the way you are supposed to. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“What I was trying to say...”

“But how can you say that Sir. That kind of demoralizes everyone. “

“Yeah …“”exactly… well said ….,” arose the chorus.

“Hey! The fact that Time controls everything doesn’t mean that you stop chasing your dreams. You will never reach where you’re supposed to reach unless you give in your best. You have to put in…”

“But sir...” interrupted a voice again. 

"What is the use of giving everything we have if we end up where we are 'supposed to' at the end of it all?”

God, this is harder than I thought it would be.

                                                *        *        *                 

A long two hours later Professor Watson dragged himself into his Volkswagen parked in the university parking lot. Clearly he was worn out with the onslaught of questions that were fired at him in the last two hours. The bombardment of question killed every ounce of strength he had in him and drained him to the extent that he lacked the strength to go to the Principal to convey his regards for requesting him to take a special session for the students on the various theories of life. He cursed himself for not quitting while he was ahead of the game.

Why? Oh, why didn’t I just walk out after the lecture? Thank god I had that brainwave to ask if anyone had any questions. Me and my magnanimity! Pooh…. Never again, never ever again will I talk about god or philosophies to science students. Never again will I do that…

As the car purred to life, he noticed a young girl sprinting towards his car, rather frantically. The professor rolled down his windows and gestured to her to slow down. When she finally reached his car, she was completely out of breath. He waited patiently until she regained her breath. In the meanwhile, having an innate ability to profile people, he tried to deduce all the information about her that he could. He guessed that she was in her early twenties. Judging by the scent of perfume and body lotion, he guessed that she was a girl who cared about her image in the society and her posh watch told him that she came from a rich family.

Having finally caught her breath she said, "Professor, I’m really sorry about holding you back, but I…I have to talk to you about something…”

“Why didn’t you ask me back in the class?” clearly expressing his discontent in having been held back.

“Sir, it is not something that I could ask you in front of a class,” she replied.

“Okay then. Go ahead. Hey! Before that, what’s your name?” he asked getting out of the car.

“I’m Emma, Sir. And I want to talk to you about love.”

“Okay, pray tell me your problem.”

“Okay. Two years ago I met a young boy named Ajay. He looks a lot like a British actor, and you know, I kind of fell for his looks. When I started talking to him, his humble character and maturity got me all the more attracted to him. And this attraction grew up into an infatuation. Last month, he proposed to me and I didn’t want to turn it down. So I said, "Yes!”

She paused for a moment. The professor who was an ardent believer in the power of listening beckoned her to continue.

“Well, ours wasn’t a flirty kind of affair. In fact, we don’t even go out together although I believe that being twenty one I have all the right in the world to do so anytime. But things got worse even before it actually started. My parents came to know that I was having an affair and they got a bit upset.”

When the professor raised his eyebrows at that remark she gave a sly smile and continued, "Actually they got really furious and grounded me for a week. They flew into a Hulk kind of rage when they came to know that my boyfriend was a Hindu.”

“Hindu and Christian, huh? I can see where it is going. Anyway, pray continue.”

“As you can guess things got out of hand and they gradually shifted gears from crazy madness to emotional blackmailing. They told me that a fortuneteller had told them that I was destined to have an arranged marriage which would lead to a 'happily married life'. After listening to you today, I am completely confused. What should I do? Should I just let fate take over my life or should I direct my life towards my dreams? Please help me….”

After a minute’s silence, which for the girl seemed to be an eternity, the professor replied, “Emma, life is too short and too full of troubles to sacrifice all that you love for the sake of others. From what I heard, I can see that you really truly love him. Now let me tell you something. Your destiny is in your hands. You can mould it into the best ever model or squeeze it and destroy it. Of course like I said in the lecture, your fate is predefined. But that doesn’t mean that you let it be. Even a fortuneteller wouldn’t be able to decide your fate, child. And let me tell you one more thing. Love is a potent force. In fact it is the only force which has the ability to change your destiny apart from the force of willpower. It’s you who decide with whom you want to live the rest of your life. No one, not even your parents can decide that for you. Listen, Emma, if you love him, really love him, and he loves you, nothing in this world can stop you from being with him.”

The tears that wet her cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes that rejuvenated her aura made that cold, foggy December evening a memorable one for both Emma and the professor.

                                                *        *        *   
Margaret, more commonly known as Mrs. Watson, eyed her husband rather doubtfully for he had been at his second bread for the past ten minutes. Being a chatterbox herself she had been elated, seventeen years back, when she met James Watson a professor in theology who happened to be a greater chatterbox than herself. In fact, she could confidently say that ever since they had married, both of them had never had a quiet dinner. It was always more-talk-less eat when it came to the Watsons’ dining table manners. So obviously she was bamboozled with her husband’s aberrant silence. Even their fifteen-year-old daughter Eva knew that something was up.  Eva decided to break the ice, ”Hey Dad, what’s up? Why are you so silent?"

“Did something go wrong at the lecture, honey?” Margaret chirped in.

“Actually, it’s about a girl named Emma. She met me personally after the lecture to ask for some advice regarding an issue she was facing.”

He went on to relate the conversation that they had that evening. When he concluded by restating all his philosophies on life, he could see a look of astonishment in his wife’s face. He knew that she had quite contrasting ideas on life and she expressed those ideals to him which more often than not resulted in a verbal war. He waited for her to begin. He always enjoyed arguing with her. Every single time that he had done so, he had emerged the winner.

“Honey, how could you say that to her? “

“Why can’t I?”

“If you had bothered to look at it from her parents’ point of view, you wouldn’t have asked her to chase her dreams by acting against them.”

“Dear, Emma is an individual. She is twenty one and she is matured enough to know with whom she must live. Respect her individuality honey. Nobody, not even her parents have the right to control her thoughts and emotions. Let her live an individual.”

“But what about her parents? Are you telling me that a father and a mother who raise their child, who mould their child from a mere toddler to that 'individual' you’re talking about, have no say in that kid’s future. They have every right to reprimand her for falling in love.”

“Of course they have a say in their child’s future. That’s exactly what I was trying to convey. They do have a say, but it stops at that. Nothing more than that. They need to let go of their child. It’s their possessive nature that makes them cling on to their child, even though that butterfly is all set to fly away and explore the world.”

Eva who had been listening to all this decided to butt in, ”So dad, will you let go of me when I’m twenty?”

Without a second though he answered, ”Of course, I’ll let go off you anytime you want me to. If it was you who were in love with a guy, I’ll happily let you be. I might advise you, but that’ll be it. The present day world is full of hypocrites who state that everyone, including fourth-grade students should be given freedom, but when it actually comes to giving freedom, they all advise instead of giving that freedom. I plan to change that. And you my princess,” he added, ”Will thank me for treating you as an individual.”

After that eloquent speech, everyone dived into their own thoughts, mulling over all that had been said. Even Margaret seemed convinced. The professor simply smiled at his himself and stuffed his mouth with the remainder of his bread.

                                                *        *        *                


The professor was in his study reading a novel about destiny, fate, and faith. He came across a word that was unfamiliar to him. He decided to look up that word in the dictionary. He walked across the living room and into her daughter’s study. He lifted the dictionary under a mound of books and dresses. When he opened the dictionary, a neat piece of paper fell down onto the mound of dresses. He read it. He reread it. He read it for the third time, hurled the dictionary out of the room, and stormed into the kitchen where his wife and daughter were busy baking cakes for Christmas evening.

“What in the world is this?” he asked flaunting the paper at his daughter.

It was her mother that answered.

”A love letter from Ram,” said she, quite unabashed.

“I got that part, alright. I asked….” he paused turned to his wife and stuttered, "How did you know what it was?”

“She told me so.”

“How long has this been going on?” he asked.

“Fifteen days to be precise,” this time it was Eve who answered.

“I’m gonna wring that neck of yours, you good for nothing girl! How can you backstab your own father? You go behind my back and have an affair with a guy and that too a guy from another religion! What do you think of yourself? You think that you can do whatever you want with your life, huh? Then why am I here as your father, if you can take care of yourself? I’ll...”


“Shut up! I don’t wanna hear anything from you. You little devil of a child. I never expected you to do this. How can you be so emotionless? Didn’t you think about us, your parents? You are never going to leave this house again. You are...”

“Hmm…Hmm,” Margaret clears her throat.

The professor stopped pacing like an angry steed and turned to face her wife who had up until then been simply staring at her husband with a look of incredulous astonishment.

“Honey, a few years back,” she said the words slowly so that he didn’t miss anything, "You had told us about that girl called Emma or something. Remember?”

“So?” came the sharp retort.

”At that time, you had told Eva here that she could live her life the way she wanted. You said that love was divine and that she was an individual with free thoughts and wasn’t bound morally to do anything for anybody, not even for her parents…”

“That doesn’t mean…” he began.

”Maybe it is her destiny to live with him. You can’t do anything about it if she is fated to live with Ram, can you?”

“There’s no such thing as destiny!”

With a sly smile on her face Eva said, ”Excuse me! There’s no such thing as what?”

“What I meant is…” he was at a loss of words.

“Dear, you yourself told us that destiny is the overall power that decides where we end up and that willpower and love are the only two forces potent enough to alter it. She just found that second potent force to change her destiny to what will be her new destiny. So we must not question her destiny.”

She let the words sink in and waited patiently for a reply. She had known since that day six years ago that the biggest hypocrite around was the person who called everybody else hypocrites. She wasn’t as surprised as we would expect her to be since she knew that he who doled out great words of advice to everyone around about ‘letting go’ and about 'possessive nature’ would forget everything about such ideals and great words of wisdom when it came to their own children. So mentally both Margaret and her daughter had been prepared for a performance such as this. Eva had borrowed her father’s dictionary and had placed her love letter inside it upon her mother’s advice. She was eager to know how true her assessment of her husband was. Personally even she didn’t support Eva in her affair but she knew that this would be just another passing fancy for a girl in her twenties.

He continued to pace up and down the length of the kitchen. The father in him was fighting with the professor in him; the hypocrite in him was fighting with the astute believer of liberty in him. The result was similar to any brawl that takes place within human minds. Emotions overpower values and ideals. This happens in this brawl as well.

He turns rather slowly and with clenched teeth and narrow eyes, he manages to say it in a voice no more than a whisper, "Eva, you’ll not marry Ram. You can choose a man from the proposals I bring to you. Until your marriage is fixed, you’ll not leave this house. Love is naïve. You are too young to understand that. There’ll be no more talks related to this in this house. Period…”

satire real life love story

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