I am caged

in a masquerade.
I smile too much,
laugh outrageously.
My lips
stretch and stretch
until they tear apart.
Brandishing the yellows,
in an attempt to laugh,
I open my mouth
as wide as an Anaconda’s,
ready to swallow his delicacies
fresh and alive.
I could have very well torn my face
for the mask
has started to itch


As per the rules of the game,
you need to grin and grin,
grind you teeth as well
in response to a joke
as evil as your disguise.
And when the joke’s on you,
you must burst out laughing
and say that the tears in your eyes
are that of immense joy
(at your participation
in your own humiliation).
Clearly, they got under your skin
and now, they boil within,
churning your insides,
waiting to gnaw you whole
and eject out
Laughing was never more expensive.
It is here,
the mask tears apart,

the face shall eventually follow.

There is some lipstick
missing from my lips
as I squandered it
on meaningless kisses.
So I bite and bite my cracked lips
to gain a natural shade of red.
All I see is an ugliness

as daunting as the former.

Red spills, mask slips.
And with the face peeling off,
I can hold no more.
So, faceless I run
like Cinderella must do
before midnight strikes,
before her secret stands stark naked,
to escape
the demons of the masquerade
and leave behind
the bloodied mask.
It is that part of me
the masquerade claims.
For the demons need to preserve
the very scent of mine
that would lead them to my place.
Uninvited, they barge in
where I am their host
and the host

of the next masquerade.

-K. Tanushree ‘Svayam’

Date of completion : 29th April, 2017

Date of publishing : 17th June, 2019.

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