Bal Masqué

And I wonder, often, whether the world truly is becoming progressively screwed up, signifying the proximity of the Second Coming – or if all this is just a Second Uncovering of our true nature as humans. Are we just collectively becoming tired of ourselves, and thus find ourselves clawing away, in determined exhaustion, at the layers of pretension and so-called propriety we have created over centuries? Are we simply – and finally – relieving ourselves of our make-up, masks and bowties, in desperate pursuit of the organic hideousness of what lurks – what thrashes and thrums with vivacity – beneath it all?

Talking to Jilani on Eid day reminded me of the Japanese proverb about the three faces that we each possess. The first face is the one we tend to share with our families; it is polite, obedient, and domesticated. The second, we share with friends and other acquaintances; it is slightly more animated and authentic. But the third face is the one that is most integral to who we are; it is the one that only we ourselves can know and understand.

Our third faces are cloaked by our Jungian shadows – by the bleak colour palette of realism. Our first and second ones are governed by our sensual primal urges – by the instincts that drive us towards seeking pleasure and attention, and away from pain and abandonment. These two sister faces are enveloped in airs of idealism, and human society has been constructed atop their needs. Modern society is ugly and illusory by nature; it domesticates our wolfishness and conditions us to partake in a grand and absurd rat race. But what is even uglier (by our own, ironically self-constructed standards) is what we manage to hide so adeptly, beneath it all.

The third face – the jealous, perverse, perpetually restless, hyper-competitive, traumatised, misunderstood, ‘ill’, spiteful, controlling monster that quietly and effortlessly tyrannises every aspect of our beings –  this is what bubbles intensely but silently beneath the surface, erupting into our realm only very occasionally. We try to run from it; of it, we are terrified. But it is inescapable. The subconscious – the most extensive part of our conceptual realities – conceals all that the world has decided to deem unacceptable to itself: the things that are unbefitting for a terrestrial theatre designed primarily for extroverts and professional pretenders.

‘Real life’ has not felt like real life to me for quite a long time. I yearn for something more than this – the very thing in whose absence my soul might ache in remembrance of. I often daydream of opting out of the toxic cultural stages I find myself standing on – by birth, and not by choice, I might add. But I have been moulded in order to fit their cookie-cutter templates: there is no immediate way out. My mind is far too dark and wide for my liking. The stars that have, for some time, bestrewn it as a result of God’s favour are becoming increasingly difficult to locate. Perhaps this is why I take a particular liking towards matters concerning astronomy and the universe. I know a thing or three about dark matter. It follows me, irrespective of where I go or whom I am with. It is crippling and unconditional; it is too much. [And oh, how I sometimes wish I were an extrovert – to be able to escape from its tenacious grip, at least sometimes]

My third face, my third universe. I want to confront it; to hear its belligerent roar with my own ears; to conquer it, and then

I want to find a way to love it. 


Sadia Ahmed, 2019

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