In the summer capital rattling by civilian killings, cops are checking, among the assailants, the third wave with the strict mask implementation. But despite the baton order, the commoners are unwittingly unmasking their agonized faces.

That Delhi has dispatched some top counterinsurgents in the wake of capital killings and on the heels of Raj Bhavan’s ‘free hand’ to forces has been dominating the newsphere of the valley. Amid sudden strikes, the conflict-consumed commoners are trying to make sense of the rattling events by baring their anguished appearances. 

The unmasked faces of Kashmir might’ve become the penalized façade, but they expose the gravitas of grief that has unleashed on the landscape in the backdrop of the lingering discord. 

In this fretful ecosystem that has come to define and dominate the mood in the valley, this mask man is out on the street. Living hand to mouth, the man, if Wall Street is one’s reference, is fishing in troubled waters. 

He’s out to sell face shields when the fear of ‘invisible enemy’ is once again rattling the valley. Amid distress, those part of the defence matrix are actively in demand. 

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But then the unmasked faces of the valley aren’t making it a sunshine enterprise for this poor vendor.

In front of the jammed wheel, some wandering souls adhere to the protocol as a matter of routine. But for some onlookers, the viral fear is a normalized fret being spread to unsettle the order.

But then those coming out on the streets for earning their bread are either lost in the overwhelming state of affairs in their homeland or getting worried about their unrewarding routine. 

In this struggling phase, they stand unmasked and agonized on the streets. 

As the situation heads south, some unmasked characters are taking it on their chin. The perpetual state of woe and wait for them is an old jinx. 

“Nothing new,” they grin, with their pattern-reading minds. “A throwback to that lived nightmare!” 



Just for a breather, some of them pull down their masks and reveal that classic salt-and-pepper appearance—the weathered outlook—to signify the life blues in the valley.

At sanctums, where they offer votive sum to ward off the evil eyes and the lurking ‘invisible enemy’, the custodian shows his solemn appearance. 

Even in the house of God, many say, the mood mostly appears melancholic, than meditative. 

But this despondency isn’t discouraging that eternal street vendor selling seasonal delicacies like nuts to hit streets for a living. 

However, as the winter is coming, the outing is getting cold and concerned.

The unmasked look of corn-sellers is hope amid despair. Especially, with that rare smile in the sea of masked faces, the moment only shines like a light through the heart of darkness.

But as the same streets are witnessing that old and cursed run for life, the neighbourhood vegetable vendor is unmasking his woe as it is.

In these masked times, the joyride stands mostly concealed. But then, in the city of grief, the driver like him makes each moment worth it.

In myriad masks, this commoner is not alone to unmask his underprivileged state. It’s growing grief.

Caught in his own space and time quandary, the theory of relativity for this unmasked character is the crisis-drifting of life.

Even the transporter stands unmasked while taking the jostling crowd for a ride. 

But sadly, the unmasking romance in the viral time often ends with this life-support mask! 

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