Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: The Masquerade: Episode 1 https://anchor.fm/manitav/episodes/The-Masquerade-Episode-1-egknfa
The above are the few sample pages that I am reading over podcasts in an episode format. Hope you like them. You can also read them below.
It is always difficult to judge what deceives a human being the most. The heart that believes all instincts, devoid of any logic. Or the mind that is mighty enough to create any logic that justifies its fancy beliefs.
Mrinalini stopped writing. Not because she was short of words. No.
In fact, she had so much to write that she could go on for the entire night. But she was unable to write more. Her fingers were aching. They were white and stiff. Almost competing with the view of Manhattan skyline from her apartment window. As if, all life form was frozen. Just like her.
She closed her diary and ran her fingers over the handmade cover where she had written –
~ This diary belongs to Mrinalini Sengupta – Plz don’t touch ~
She bit her trembling lower lip as her heartbeat paced for a rhythm faster than the normal. Her memory was clouded, and so was her judgement. She couldn’t come to a definite conclusion about whether she woke up scared due to a dream or she was scared after she woke up.
‘Did a nightmare about a haunting shadow near the window wake me up, or did I really see a scary figure lurking around my bedside?’
She could see nothing out of the window. It was one of those darkest hours of the night when the fog obscured most of the visibility. Arguably, it should have been usual for any night in late February. Only it wasn’t ‘just another ordinary night’ in February. It was that unfortunate date when her older sister, Madhumita, had died twelve years ago.
Mrinalini closed her eyes, trying not to remember that fateful accident. The accident that had disrupted her entire family. The scary visuals of bleeding Madhumita on the floor of the school disturbed her, even now.
A severe headache replaced the confusion, and Mrinalini couldn’t go back to sleep again. Penning down thoughts in her diary had always been therapeutic to her. But even that seemed to be failing then.
Suddenly, a vague sound from the adjoining room startled her. It was weird as the occupant, her flatmate Pia, a junior anaesthetist in the Civil Hospital, was doing the emergency duty that night. Mrinalini was sure that she was alone in the apartment when she retired to bed after dinner.
‘Or, maybe, I had assumed it to be like that.’
The sound of someone walking on the wooden floor became prominent enough to make her shudder. The stronger part of her brain challenged her to get up and check for the source of sound in the next room, while the weaker sections of her heart panicked and asked her to bolt the door from inside and duck her five feet two inches, slender frame deep inside the bedcovers.
Her mind and heart, the arch-rivals, loved to resume their age-old scuffle. Challenging her. Exhausting her. Defeating her. Every single time.
She remembered how the entire medical school training had emphasized the importance of trusting the brain over everything else. Logic and reasoning are your best friends when you get puzzled, they had said. However, Ritusmita, her elder sister, believed in the power of the heart in guiding a person. Let your heart be your highest priority, she always advised. It never misleads.
Medically, they only meant the conscious and subconscious parts of the brain – one relied on facts and experience, the other on instincts. Yet, it was fancy to call them ‘mind’ and ‘heart’ – movies were made and books were written on them, like that.
However, all of this was simply a theory, she knew.
In reality, it never happened like that. At times, the brain refused to listen to the heart and wanted to go ahead with what was justified and logical. While at other times, the opposite happened. The heart would often refuse to trust the brain if it had to compel an innocent soul to do things he might not have thought about, in a sane moment. The tussle between the two was inevitable. Almost considered normal.
‘But, what happens when the brain refuses to trust itself?
What if one area of the sensible brain asked the other area to shut up? When the mind was pitted against intellect, sense took a backseat and gave a prime position to confusions. What happens, then?’
It was a pity. No training could prepare her enough for this phase of life where she could trust no one. Not even her own mind.
Especially not her mind.
She could feel her back muscles stiffen, feet glued to the wooden bar below her writing desk, and sweat beads lacing her forehead despite the chill. Her lips were dry, and her throat hurt. A huge blob of saliva refused to slide down her throat. Goosebumps on her forearm reminded her that she had to take a decision.
‘Should I go out and check for the source of sound or pretend that I heard nothing?’
The noises increased. A hushed murmur, this time.
Someone had taken her name in a low, husky, rugged whisper –’Dr. Mrinalini Sengupta!’
Someone was in the other room, facing the common wall, threatening to break it apart. The pressing of the foam mattress under someone’s weight, the rustling of bed sheet, the hoarse whisper, and the muffled hum of heavy breathing across the wall gave a blood-curdling picture of a cannibalistic monster crawling over the wall between the rooms, ready to pierce through it to reach her bed at any moment.
Mrinalini stood up with a jerk. She had to do something. She scanned the room quickly before her eyes rested on the baseball club she had bought last month at the New York Sports festival. She gathered all her courage and curled her trembling fingers around the club.
‘I can do this… Yeah! I am not a kid. I am twenty-eight years old, healthy and strong, and fit enough to take on a perpetrator if I face him with enough confidence.’
She decided to check the next room before concluding whether to fight or run away. Moving ahead like a cat on a prowl, taking one measured, and noiseless step at a time, she tiptoed out of her room to cross the entire length of the dark and quiet living room. Slowly, she unlatched the door of the room next to hers.
The wooden door swung open. Pia’s room was quiet and dark, as well. Deserted like a graveyard. There was nothing strange inside the room.
With her heart beating hard and eyes wide open, Mrinalini scanned the room once again. No one.
Thank you so much for listening and reading.
Have a great day