Masks People Wear

The stench of dried blood and rotting flesh filled the air.   

“The victim is a male, about 35 years of age. Looks like another one from the series. Yet again, the killer has gone right for the jugular.” Inspector Bhuvan concluded, handling the sticky note from the victim’s forehead to the constable. “Send it across to the forensics, check whether it is the same f**king shade.”   

Despite the concentrated efforts, the police were left grasping at straws in the face of a string of killings with a disconcerting congruence— an identical sharp-edged murder weapon with the stabs trailing to the left indicating a left-handed killer. Even all the victims had a common history of prior sexual offense. A yellow-sticky-note with a lipstick mark, a shade 2*, was always left behind, yielding a peek into the killer’s repugnant whimsical, capricious mind.    

 A piece of red fabric dangling by the victim’s button grabbed Inspector Bhuvan’s attention. The killer was getting tardy after all.  

 *****   

 A morning that was effulgent had culminated into a gloomy haze by the time Bhuvan reached home. The fact that it was Anita, his wife’s night duty, further dampened Bhuvan’s already dejected spirit. Fetching himself a Heineken, he drooped down into the chair. He took a deep swig at the lager, thinking about Anita. Between their combined work schedule sometimes it was weeks before they could be together. Their aversion towards conversations on the phone had wheedled them into scrawling love notes for each other.  

He opened Anita’s drawer to leave her a note. A pad of yellow-sticky-notes, a lipstick shade- 2* and a sharp-edged nail-filer lay there, staring him into the face. Anita was a trained doctor and a lefty, his mind jerked into action, piecing together something that his very core wanted to deny. With trembling hands, he pried open her cupboard and deep within the crevices, he found the damned sari, with a tiny rent in its border. The silence intensified. Bhuvan felt the hair stirring on the back of his neck, recalling Anita’s intense reactions to any news related to sexual-offense.    

Was it all a mask? Was he just means to an end? For classified information? Using him, just like the others!! 

 He felt the bile rising up his throat as flashes from his childhood flooded his mind. 

That decrepit orphanage… incessant abuse…people under a guise of caregivers!! Masks!!   

 *****   

A sliver of moonlight illuminates the room. Inspector Bhuvan rises from his bed to walk up to his wife’s cupboard and discards his own robes. With utmost patience, deft and agility, he drapes the red sari around his midriff. A smudge of Kohl and a daub of the lipstick shade- 2*, efficiently and effectively mask the final vestiges of his masculinity. Gently tucking in the contents of Anita’s drawer in the handbag, he flips on his PC to have a look at the case files.   

With a distinctive feminine grace, he heads out. It was time for another hunt.
*****
Glossary-
Heineken- a popular beer brand
Sari- a traditional Indian wear
PC- personal computer 
Author’s note: Dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) is thought to be a complex psychological condition that is likely caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood (usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse). It produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. Dissociative identity disorder is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process which produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity.
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Supriya Bansal
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