Joker – A story beneath the mask | Short Story
“I don’t have any scars on my face nor did any additional efforts are made on it look good. No make-up, no masks. It’s the same as I look every day. But today, I am not able to figure out who I am? The face in the mirror is contradicting to the person I am feeling from deep inside. I am not feeling to be myself. Is this the real me? Is this what people see? Who is this? It’s me of my thoughts or me of people’s wishes?”
In the chaos going around him, outside his room, this was Ananth thinking, seeing his face in the mirror in front of him. A dim red light from the bulb bulging out on the top of the mirror focused on his face and brightened it. The noise was continuously increasing with every minute passing. But today it was different. Today nothing mattered to him, neither the noise, the people who were creating it was considered as a disturbance and nor did the focus of the light enlighten him.
Today no chaos was as big as the one that was going in his mind. No actions going around were making him excited or curious. Today it was all he with himself; committed and dedicated to his thoughts. The door knocked quite a few times but eventually stopped after he shouted at them and asked them to leave him alone for some time.
It is not something that happens every day. It is a day of introspection. Since last few days, he was feeling a deep pain in himself. He failed in his semester exams and also lost money in trading. Both of this took place in the same time frame and he was lost trying to figure out what went wrong. He needed the support of the people whom he thought were close to him. Not monetary support or any help in studies, he just needed people to stand by, holding his hands by the time he figures out what went wrong.
He was not a bad student nor was he a bad trader but something still went wrong and that was what he was searching for and standing alone in such condition was making the situation even worse. He called Ananya –his love interest, but she ignored; texting him that she was busy instead of asking him a reason for the call. His friends too sent a message that they were busy with their work. Suddenly he was seeing a different side of the picture. Whom he wanted with him then, had their priorities. He was feeling as if this was something he had been going through for a long time but he never realised it or felt that way.
Today, everything was opening up to him. He realised how when he wanted a relationship; he got restricted to friendship when he wanted friends to love him; they asked him for making them feel good. He needed support from family; they told him to get matured and do by himself. Whether it was his crush, his friends, family or anyone, no one was there in his need. How it was always he himself living his life as per the lives of others.
In such a state of mind, he was looking at himself; asking “what is wrong with me? Why are people not there when I need them? Where does all their love get lost, when it is me and not them?
He was not frustrated or much disappointed, he was just anxious. Today he just wanted to understand where does he stands in people’s life. What position does he hold in their heart apart from their needs? The power was also playing its game. It went on and off thrice within a span of 15 minutes and he was continuously observing himself in darkness and light from minute to minute. Staring at his own face, he realised how different he himself is from what is seen there.
How a heart, with volcano bursting in there and with questions unanswered about him-self, has a contented face in the mirror. It was like his face was deceiving himself. He realised how different he is to what people perceive him as from his face and action and also lately because of what people accepted him, he too went in with the flow the same way, instead of changing himself and making people aware of what he actually is. Also, he was not the one who was seen in the mirror. He was totally different. The face was the mask, the expressions were the make- up which were unintentionally formed to disguise him to others from the person he actually was.
He realised that he smiled with people but deep somewhere in him he never was happy. Deep there he was always at the chaos with himself. He made people laugh with his words, but deep in there, he had lost his laughter years ago. He was always there to help people who needed it whether they were close to him or not, but inside he knew that he himself was the one who needed this help to the most. But still, he did maintain the perceived image; not for him, but for the people, because somewhere somehow he knew how it feels when you have the dearth of these things, and he never wanted to make others feel the same, what he was feeling every day and every night.
But today it was not the same, the burden of carrying the expectations and wishes of people on his shoulder got too extreme to bear and he felt that it was not that he was being treated or considered as a support or helping hand or a person to be worthy of doing that.
He felt he was a joker.
A joker for the people around him. They come, watch him and leave him respectively, don’t belong to him. People belong to their needs, their requirements, their moods and he was always an option and the best solution for them. They laughed at his talks, enjoyed his company. He lightened their moods. He motivated them; solved their issues with their family, their relationship. But once things settle, everyone went on to their paths with their mates. And he was left there with a smile on his face and a contented heart. He was a part of peoples sorrow but was never a part of their happiness.
He felt how many a time his family asked him to say something funny so that they do not get bored. It was most of the times the only reason for his friends visiting him. It was always the reason, for the girls coming to him, unknown and unaware of what he thinks or feels, of what his emotions are, but just for the one reason that he will make their mood good, with his witty sarcasm, humour talks and postures.
He felt how a joker in the circus unknown and unaware of the people sitting and their moods, just try to take their sorrows away and make their time better, irrespective of what he is feeling deep inside him. Many facets of his life were getting played in front of him today. He felt he was never a women’s first choice for love, he was always a women’s first choice for laughter. Always up for the people whom he considered as his priority but for whom he was not even a second option. He was lost in that thought.
And was connecting the various dots of the past to understand why his present hold the position he is in, and with less effort, he even connected them. Later he realised that in trying to make people happy and pleased with him, somewhere he himself became the Joker of life, unconsciously even unaware of it. He himself lost his feelings and emotions and surrendered then to laughter, in making people love him.
He gave himself in, to be loved by them for the person he was and what he got was love for what he showed to them or for what he acted in front of them. What he thought should have been understood by them as an act to make them happy for a short time, was misunderstood as his personality. People began to think that he was a man for all, and what he did was to make everyone one. He became a symbol for good. His priorities and concern for his closed ones got ignored and his efforts in making them happy were generalized to all. Everyone felt that his concern was for all and so no one realised how some were even special to him.
The red coloured dim light continued to fall on his face, bringing his smile back to him as his thoughts were getting clearer and clearer. Slowly he was digesting the fact that this role of a joker he himself had taken with his own wishes though he himself was unaware of it. But that too was not in his hands. He became a joker for some people to show his happiness in making them happy, to show his concerned for them but things were accepted altogether in a different way.
The room knocked again, he came out of the thoughts he was in. His eyes were filled with tears and his lips smiled. He knew that his thoughts were a reality though not seen by everyone but not understood by them.
A person from outside shouted again. Anant stood up and opened the door. Anil, the manager came inside. With a disgusting expression on his face, and infuriated tone he asked again,
“Why are you not ready till now? The play has started Ananth.
The artists are there performing on stage, it is your turn next and you are not ready yet? What are you thinking Ananth? What is wrong with you? Ananth smiled and replied, “I have got a few minutes. You please don’t panic; I will be there on time.
To this, the manager said,” Ananth, do you know what are you going to do there? You have got an important role to play out there. You are a JOKER in the play and you are taking it this lightly. It is a very big burden of making people laugh. It is a very important part of this play. So please realise that and work. You have not even done the make-up and where is the mask?”
Hearing this, a smile came on Ananths’ face. He saw his face in the mirror and pointing to his mirror image, he replied to the manager, “There it is. And this mask does not need make-up because he is totally different from the person who is hidden behind this face. This is a JOKER in real.”
The manager got curious listening to this and continuously stared Ananth. Seeing his curiosity, Ananth laughed, picked up the funny clone mask, he was about to wear and made his way out of the room towards the stage, where the audience was waiting to see the JOKER on stage.
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