There is a saying that a person has three faces, the ﬁrst one you show to the world, the second you show to your family, and the last you never show to anyone. I think that’s an understatement. I have an endless number of personas in me, and I have always enjoyed the freedom of unmasking each one of them. To me, it was like a game. One day I would dress up as a sophisticated lady in an evening bouffant dress and the next as the girl-next-door in her favourite denim overall. I would search deep inside to ﬁnd each persona’s essence, their soul, and overtime I found Lily, Athena, Grace, Layla… Today, though, I decided to just be Jane. Plain old Jane. My given name; the name I had come to hate.
It was a simple game. Whenever the weather was making me feel blue I would go to London’s busy National Park with all the enthusiastic children and dogs roaming around playing non-stop as the adults talked their day away. I would sit on one of the rocks beside the Garden Pond where the singing ducks and the shy frogs swam around. With me, I was carrying the same book as I always had, Nirvāṇalīlāvatī by Jineśvara. It’s a story about the King of Śrāvast who had been offered multiple garments that cannot be seen by any person of illegitimate birth. When the king is wearing the garment, his whole court pretends to admire it so to not be called an illegitimate child.
I actually never read the book that I had forgotten to bring with me altogether today. It was more of a decoy to get strangers to engage in a conversation with me. That’s when the real entertainment began, only then could I put my personas on the test. The National City Park was certainly the place for this type of game. With nine million inhabitants in the city, one was destined to meet someone new everyday and never doomed to run into someone twice. Usually, a guy would approach me holding a book like Essentials of Myers-Briggs type indicator assessment or The secret lives of colour. Eventually, he would start reading into what kind of person I was to put his own little game on the test. I would, of course, play along and smile. That’s the only way I could be amused by how little people knew about themselves.
It started as a tradition created by my mom. She was an old-fashioned woman who loved her femininity because it made her feel ‘powerful inwards’ as she used to say. After the ﬁrst chemotherapy she had lost all her hair. To rekindle that feeling she Shataw Anayati decided to put on a different wig every Sunday and dress accordingly. We then went to the city park to enjoy the freshly baked donuts from the food truck with the strange menu names. The truck’s still here, now decorated more picture friendly and located right at the center of the park, exactly where I’m standing now as I’m watching the young woman put our usual order in a bag. One Old dirty bastard with chocolate frosting and cookies, and one Viscous Hibiscus dipped in a hibiscus ﬂavored frosting. The light and airy taste of the bread with the sweet glaze on top takes me back to all the adventures we used to have here in the heart of London.
Perhaps it was the early Summer weather that was emerging out of nowhere that made me feel like not playing at all today. The gleaming hot sun was turning me all dizzy and dopey, making me feel slightly lost in this environment that I knew so well. Or perhaps I was just getting sick of the repetition. All those times I had been here at this park and never gotten caught, not once. Even in Nirvāṇalīlāvatī, an everyman eventually questioned if Śrāvastī had become a naked ascetic. I ﬁnd myself heading home without accomplishing my mission for the ﬁrst time that I can ever think of. As I continue to enjoy the sweet taste of nostalgia in my mouth, a feeling of loss creeps up on me.