"But no, this is no mythological beast. I can see that his face is a mask. One of those masks that the young have started favouring…. It is a mask twisted into a permanent smile."
That is Tabish Khair, at his sarcastic best, in his novel, The Thing About Thugs. After reading this, I went into a pondering mood.
Questions started reverberating in my mind, mainly on why we try to hide our real selves and put up a face that is far from the real. Have we become hideous beasts?
I believe much of the problems one faces today are because of one's "unreal posture on display".
That is honesty killed and given a deep burial, and superficiality allowed to rule one's behaviour.
That is why Hazlitt said, "Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought."
I would go a step further: "In trying to show up what one is not, one is set to degenerate and lose all the good manners and good things about one."
As French critic Alphonse Karr said, "Every man has three characters — that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has." By displaying what he does not have, he is only putting his honesty and goodness on sale.
That is why it is said honesty begets the best of rewards in the long run; forget for the moment if it gets you some unpleasant results and response.
One must consult one's heart, not one's mind that tends to put one off the track quite often. Your heart speaks the voice of your soul; whereas your mind, over the years, has learnt to reason out and be cunning, and always goes selfish.
I would even say that your mind, at times, could become your worst enemy; but your heart will never fail you.
And who can sum it up better than P.B. Shelley, "Sometimes, the gentleman is the devil."
Mind you, there is always a beast lurking in a seemingly perfect gentleman.