This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
[Monster Masks – Short Story for Children with Moral Lesson]
There was a time when I use to hate these monster masks. These monster masks with bulging eyes, protruded cheeks, unwanted horns, cruel smile, blood thirsty tongue and list goes on. I remember I had just learned to walk independently on street in front of my house along with few more newly manufactured products of my village. Clay clad goons in only shorts, hanging below our rounded hips, hiding the most important part of our individuality was a common scenario in the street in front of my house. This scenario usually ends for me with my mother’s unwanted interruption in our ongoing meeting with the each and every particle of dust and germs along with it. Mother, unable to beat me, rather my tenderness, could only yell and wash me with soap. Each time telling me what these germs could do to me. And also threatening, to tell my mischief’s to father. For few seconds I use to remain quite.
After some time my mother would herself ask me, “so how was your game today”.
Then use to start a train of words, “you know today I made a house of clay and everybody wanted to live in it, but I said no it’s for me and my mom”.
Then my mother would hug me and kiss me. This use to be our daily routine until one day when she came for me in the street and it was bleeding from my hand. She took me home and assured me that it was just a bruise and nothing else but nobody could stop me from crying once I have started. Any how everything in this world has an end so was for my crying. When I stopped my mother took me outside and pointed me towards monster masks hanging from frontal walls of all the houses in our street which were visible in one go.
“Those monster masks”, my mother told me, “become real monsters in night and take away all those children who don’t listen to their mothers.” My mother’s words were so direct and eloquent that they were like arrows piercing me heart.
I asked her “Are they so bad”.
She replied in grotesque voice “They are the only ghosts remaining in this world after Kansa (enemy of little Krishna). They are for children who don’t listen to their mother.”
My life changed from that very moment .First change, I never use to see those monster masks. My head was always straight or pointed towards earth while I am walking in our street. Other times when I am out with mother or father I use to hide myself behind them till that mask has gone beyond my visibility. Second change I would never say no to my mother.
Nobody noticed these changes. I was now seeing those monster masks in various shapes and sizes in front of me in my dreams. My fear aggravated one day when I came to know that one such monster mask will be hanged from our newly renovated house. I started praying to god that it should break while it is being brought to our house or it should fall from our wall on the very first moment when it is being hanged. Nobody knew what was going on in my yet to blossom childhood. Those bulging eyes and those protruded faces were now in front of me every time. And the day came. I came back from my playground and I saw my elder brother and my father fitting the monster mask on front side of our house top. I started crying there.
My mother came out immediately, “What happen”.
And I replied “It will take me away from you now”.
My elder brother had also come down. My mother assured me that nobody can take me from her. But I can see monster mask looking towards me with confident and cruel smile. It was my end for sure. My mother asked my father to throw it away. She also started pouring out diamonds from her eyes and simultaneously removing my tears with a towel. My father came inside and asked my mother to stop this drama and asked me to act like grownups.
My mother said that “He is just four years”.
And my father went on to say this is the age when one should start learning realities. Ultimately it was decided that my mother is wrong and monster mask will remain as it is. My mother assured me that everything she had told me about monster mask was a lie. But at that time everything except those monster masks were a lie for me. During night I didn’t went out to pee. And things were wet below me in the morning.
Days started going on and my fear also started losing hold but I remember I had not seen on the upper half of my house for so many days. Even during nights I would ask my brother to come with me for peeing. He would tease me sometimes. But one thing was still there, in my dreams I could see monsters wearing monster masks coming for me. I would wake up in night and go to my mother’s cot to have a safe sleep. My life was going on along with my fear and then came that day which I could never forget.
I and my brother were asked to go and have an earthen pot to replace a broken one which was the result of my brother’s negligence. We went to a shop in an area which I have never before gone. There were all those earthen pots and above those pots were resting so many monster masks. I started trembling. I hid myself behind my brother but god was not with me that day. My brother got nature’s call. He went to urinate beside the bushes nearby and I stood in between all those monster masks. My legs were trembling so much that I started crying and could not move them. Shopkeeper was also not there. My brother yelled at me and asked me to keep quite. But so many bulging eyes and protruded cheeks with unwanted horns have never ever been so close to me. I was crying and crying, when a dog came from nowhere barking at me. I could not go anywhere except toward those monster masks. I closed my eyes for a second and with one of my hand I tried to pick up anything I could get. When I opened my eyes I was holding a monster mask in my hand and dog was going away from me but still barking at that monster mask. My brother came immediately and till then shopkeeper has also come but I had won two fights at a time. One, I was able to save myself from dog and other my fear from monster masks has gone away as they became my armour this time.
Today I realise one thing that all bad looking faces are not bad. Beauty lies beneath the skin above it lay the lie.