One single word that embraces multiple attributes and emotions, one single word that explicitly points at hidden inferiority, one single word that stands out as a pale ray of alacrity against all atrocities – that word, MASK, has thus been explored and examined throughout this compilation. Quite obviously, we call it, THE MASK.
These four alphabets may look similar in all the submissions, the meanings penned down are but diverse and hold equal significance.
The titular theme of the project was simply born out of the raging pandemic. The year 2020 made it into a phenomenal name, since masks now have become an accessory, a part and parcel of our everyday styling. But that’s not all that is there to this multifaceted word. And exactly that is what we meant to do through this imprint: to explore the unexplored territories of the human psyche that revolve all around masks, the unification of time and space through masks.
This led us to the initial question, “Do we really just wear masks?”
The answer was a straight, “No!”
“Do we think of a mask only when we talk of taking precautions and protection against COVID?” No!”
Even Dunbar stated the obvious reasons in 1895 when he jotted down We Wear the Mask. Masking has been hence evidently prevalent since times immemorial, many wise men could infer the reality behind a mask; others took it to be a societal norm, just the coating was gulped in unhesitatingly.
Inferences studied that a mask has always been a cover, a layer, a veil. “What does it hide?” – this mystery persists unsolved. Yes, a mask can be hiding the entire life force; I can claim that it has been hiding passion, it has been hiding intentions, it has been hiding illness and it has thus been hiding life.
Perceptions can be vivid, I learnt while editing this compilation. Each author has taken this literally smallest piece of cloth to new yet distinguished heights. Starting from a mask in its actuality to dimensions of female subjugation, mental illness, family, money, relationships – no juncture went unattended by the talented thinkers who contributed to make this project a huge success. If these are just about short stories, poems have altogether claimed a different podium for applause. The structure and flow add an elegant flavour to the verses. All the writers’ brisk language, unsuspecting twists, clear expression and detailed explanation have accounted into an unforgettable journey.
I had always maintained that books can never be replaced with virtual wordbooks, yet this issue has utterly stunned me. Even without the essence of pages, the plots, characters and content shall stand out with clarity and outshine in the readers’ minds undoubtedly!
Amazon India link to download the EBOOK. Also available at other Amazon serviced locations worldwide.
THE MASK FACTOR: A Talk series moderated by Ankita Dutta
Conversations with Tony J. Selimi, Shayamal Vallabhjee, Ambi Parameswaran, Saiswaroopa Iyer, Saikat Majumdar, James Barilla, Dev Nath Pathak, Urmi Bhattacheryya, Priyanka Gupta Zielinski, Neil D'Silva, Amanthi Harris, Sunanda Mehta, Himanjali Sankar, Dennis Broe
About THE MASK PROJECT
Mask. A word that has become synonymous to safe existence, doesn't need any introduction, given that it has become a requisite accessory of this era witnessing a pandemic. Moreover, even before COVID had disrupted lives, the word ‘mask’ has been a poignant theatre jargon. Words like masque and masquerade have been in vogue since the 16th and 17th centuries when masked actors would perform on stage. The mask is also used to depict concealment, camouflage and cover. Detectives slithered through crime scenes in their masks, as did the spy of war and lovers in ballroom. Mask has been used socially, colloquially and in art, to express supressed, uninformed and/or dual identity. In fiction and nonfiction, the mask found expression through crime, mystery, horror, relationship drama and psycho analytical storytelling, among others.
Submissions were called for short stories and poems on THE MASK. Fiction or non-fiction. Contributors were open to use the mask as an idea, as a prop, a behavioural trait or anything else. Selected submissions have been compiled into an ebook available worldwide via Amazon.
A talk series titled THE MASK FACTOR was curated under the scope of this project, to explore the various facets of mask and their literary and/or social implications. The speakers came from diverse creative spectrum. The talk series has been included in the digital ebook compilation of stories and poems.