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Unmasking: Not that the aam aadmi or aurat was waiting for the official announcement – The Indian Express

Even among the more conscientious in India, many will welcome the end of mandatory masking, as announced by states such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Telangana. Experts have cautioned that masks remain the first line of defence against Covid-19, which hasn’t gone away. But it would be hard to deny that before March 2020, few cherished, as they do now, the caress of a breeze on the face, and not many realised just how difficult communication can be without facial cues to read. And while compulsive instagrammers, undefeated by the mask, popularised the #maskfie, could it ever compare to a duck-faced selfie?
No doubt some people would want to continue to mask up, not only because the danger posed by the virus still remains, but because masks give them a sense not of oppression, but liberation. If airing the face, unhindered by a piece of fabric, feels like freedom, the same could be said about being able to hide behind a convenient barrier. The mask afforded privacy in public places, a rare luxury in an overcrowded country — and one that is especially cherished by women. How much easier it is to scowl at bad or sexist jokes from behind a mask, than to force a laugh or smile without it. And how much lighter it must feel to shed the burden of makeup — lipstick sales had dipped by as much as half during the peak of the pandemic— even if temporarily.
But visual evidence available on the streets suggests that those who voluntarily mask up will be in the minority. After all, in an exercise of independent judgement that is better applied in other aspects of life, the average Indian had demoted the mask from the nose and mouth to the chin months ago. In that sense, the mask mandates in India ended sometime last year. The state is only catching up with the fait accompli now.
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