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Watch TV serials and read crime novels, they suggested. Those give clues on how to be a murderer. If I watched closely enough I would learn to get away with it, too.

But, I wasn’t a murderer. I didn’t dream of killing or the act itself. Or for that matter even death. I was just somebody fascinated by the fear people felt when they knew death was near. The fear that paralysed the body and mind. The fear that focussed on bare emotions. I wanted to linger around them and grasp that energy. I lived off all kinds of fear. Fear others had. Fear I smelt. Fear I saw in their eyes. But when death was at the door, the fear surmounted. Few people were ever really ready to lose their lives. Everyone spent time, money and energy avoiding it.

I was drawn to fear. Everyone who knew my obsession called me sick and creepy. Personally, I knew it was a certain kind of madness. So, I decided┬áto spend a lot of time in hospitals, waiting for the elderly and sick to depart. That is where I met the man. He was on his death-bed doctors said. But he hardly smelt of fear. Even the morning before he died, he was smiling and chatting with the nurses. His death was not sad. It was not even painful. He died in acknowledgement of his life’s work. I was disappointed. I thought this was the beginning of the end. People were feeling satisfied, happy and at ease. Fortunately, minutes after his death, I smelt fear down the corridor. He was just an exception. Hardly the norm.